Asylum protesters greet minister with Afghanistan petition

Almost 18,000 people in Finland signed the Amnesty petition to stop deportations to Afghanistan, which they say has simply become too dangerous.

Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen (L) meets Amnesty International's Frank Johansson (R) on Tuesday 9th October 2018 / Credit: Sisäministeriö Twitter

Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen (NCP) has received a petition with almost 18,000 signatures calling on Finland to stop forced deportations of failed asylum seekers to Afghanistan.

This morning, several dozen Amnesty International protesters gathered outside the Interior Ministry in Helsinki, and intercepted Mykkänen as he arrived at the office to present him with the petition.

“We basically had the message to say that all deportations to Afghanistan should stop says Frank Johansson, Director of Amnesty Finland.

“All of Afghanistan, including Kabul is not safe because of the security situation, the war is spreading to all territories including Kabul. It is not safe from a human rights angle because there are numerous human rights violations happening all over the country, and it’s not safe from a humanitarian perspective because there is not capacity to care for all the people who are returning, and the have to basically just live on the streets” Johansson tells News Now Finland.

Minister Kai Mykkänen speaks to protesters outside the Interior Ministry on Tuesday 9th October 2018 / Credit: Amnesty Finland Twitter

After he received the signatures, Mykkänen took time to speak to the protesters, thanking them for caring about their neighbours at a time when xenophobic voices in society are also being heard.

In late summer, Finland’s immigration service Migri called a temporary halt to Afghanistan deportations, after the UN’s High Commission for Refugees published new guidelines about the country.

Migri revised their deportation guidelines to say they would only send able-bodied men and couples back to Afghanistan – including Kabul – a decision that Amnesty calls “a strange interpretation of the UN guidelines”.

The UN guidelines say that “if you’re not from Kabul, then it’s not a safe haven for so-called ‘internal flight'” explains Johansson, and adds that Migri interpreted the UN’s new guidance “as loosely as possible”.

Independent review update

The Interior Ministry is looking at the options to carry out a review of the migration process. This morning, Amnesty officials asked minister Mykkänen about the timetable and scope for the independent reviews.

“We think just the scope of looking at what Migri is doing is too narrow” says Johansson.

He notes that Mykkänen is open to having a broader, independent process to look at all the issues connected with the migration and asylum process including policing, legal aid, and Justice Ministry issues.