Finland fined for violating human rights convention over Iraqi asylum seeker’s death

The European Court of Human Rights says Finland should pay €20,000 compensation to the family of an Iraqi man who was killed in Iraq, after his asylum claim was rejected by Migri.

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File picture showing exterior of European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg / Credit: iStock

A court in Strasbourg has ruled that Finland violated the European Human Rights Convention in the case of an Iraqi man who was killed in his homeland, after his application for asylum was rejected by Finnish authorities.

Ali came to Finland in 2017 and claimed asylum, citing dangers in Iraq, where as a Sunni civil servant in Iraq’s Ministry of Interior he faced death threats from Shiia militias.

Despite the seemingly strong case the Finnish Immigration Service Migri rejected the application saying he did not meet the criteria for asylum.

Ali took the option to return voluntarily to Iraq rather than wait to be forcibly removed by Finnish authorities, but he was killed soon after arriving there.

The autopsy recorded that he was shot three times in the head and body.

Interior Ministry reaction

Finland’s Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) says the decision of the court “is very weighty and significant.”

“It is a very serious matter that our rule of law has failed in this case to protect the most important right, life” says Ohisalo in a statement, adding that she has ordered an immediate inquiry to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“The most important function of the asylum system is to protect human rights and provide protection to those in need” she adds.

What has the court ruled?

The European Court of Human Rights finds Finland in breach of Article 2 and 3 of the European Human Rights Act.

Article 2 says that “everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law”; while Article 3 states that “no-one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or pnishment.”

The court also decided Ali’s expulsion and his death in Iraq cause considerable suffering to his daughter Noor – who brought the case on her father’s behalf – and ruled that Finland must pay her €20,000 in compensation.

Noor’s own asylum claim was rejected by Migri in 2016.

This is the first time the European Court of Human Rights has found Finland in breach of the Human Rights Convention.