Minister: Policy u-turn on electronic ankle tags for failed asylum seekers

Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) said on Tuesday the plan to fit ankle monitors was not cost effective.

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File picture of Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) at House of the Estates Helsinki, 23rd June 2020 / Credt: Lauri Heikkinen, VNK

The government has indicated a change in policy, and now says asylum seekers who had their applications rejected won’t have to wear electronic ankle tags to track their location.

Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) said in a Tuesday interview that the move was not cost effective despite it being part of the government’s official policy programme.

Ohisalo says that the Ministry of Interior has carried out an official study into the matter, and come to the conclusion that implementing the plan in accordance with the government programme would not be appropriate.

The issue of tracking people who have their asylum bids rejected is politically contentious in Finland, with opposition parties saying there is no mechanism to ensure people who can’t legally stay here actually leave the country.

And within government, the Centre Party has been particularly outspoken about the need to have more monitoring of failed asylum seekers.

Lapland MP Mikko Kärnä (Centre) says he considers it a “government crisis” when a minister goes on television to “arbitrarily” announce that a policy now won’t be implemented.

“If this position is maintained, I will express my distrust in the minister” Kärnä writes.