New law removes Finnish citizenship for certain serious crimes

An amendment to the Nationality Act sets out all the different crimes for which a conviction could lead to loss of nationality.

File photo of Finnish passport / Credit: iStock

A new amendment to the Nationality Act means that authorities have the power to strip Finnish citizens of their passports if they’re found guilty of a serious criminal offense.

The interim government submitted the formal paperwork today, and President Sauli Niinistö is expected to approve the bill on Friday. It comes into force on 1st May.

Citizenship can be revoked only if the person is also a citizen of another country, and has sufficient links there. The decision to strip someone of their citizenship will be taken by the Finnish Immigration Service Migri.

What crimes are covered? 

According to the Ministry of Interior, someone can have their Finnish citizenship taken away if they’re found guilty “of an offence against the vital interests of Finland” which carries a prison sentence of at least eight years.

That could include incitement to war, treason or espionage, and the individual would also have had to be sentenced to at least five years of unconditional imprisonment.

“Loss of citizenship is an exceptional sanction. Individuals convicted of treason and terrorist crimes have, however, lost their loyalty to Finland and the Finnish people” says Interim Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen.

Other crimes which might prompt the loss of citizenship include terrorism; chemical weapons ban breaches; aggravated people trafficking; hostage taking; a nuclear explosives offense; kidnapping or killing.

Child sex abuse investigations

There were many calls for tougher sanctions against any foreign-background individuals who commit sex offenses against children.

Those calls came in the wake of a series of allegations against Finns with immigrant backgrounds and asylum seekers in Oulu and Helsinki. Some of those cases have started now to come to court.

However, guidance from the Ministry of Interior makes it clear that the new laws cannot be retroactively applied; nor can they be extended to cover child sex abuse crimes due to the European Convention on Nationality.

The new amendment also doesn’t allow for annulment of Finnish citizenship of Finnish ISIS fighters who have been involved in Middle East conflict zones.