Finnish law to halt migrants at Russia border makes progress in parliament


  • World
  • Tuesday, 18 Jun 2024

A Finnish border guard and their dog Nita patrol the Finnish-Russian border which is marked by a narrow clearing in the forest near Hoilola village, in Eastern Finland, June 5, 2024. REUTERS/Anne Kauranen/File Photo

HELSINKI (Reuters) - A Finnish government proposal to temporarily reject asylum seekers arriving across the country's border with Russia can be accepted by parliament if some amendments are made, an influential committee of legislators said on Tuesday.

The announcement by the chair of the Finnish parliament's constitutional committee paves the way for the controversial proposal to be approved in a plenary vote at a later time.

The government in May presented legislation allowing border guards to prevent migrants arriving across the long, forested border with Russia from seeking asylum, despite admitting the law would be in conflict with human rights commitments.

Finland believes Moscow is promoting the crossings in retaliation for Helsinki joining NATO, which backs Ukraine against Russia's invasion. The Kremlin denies the allegation, and very few migrants have arrived in recent months.

While the law clearly contradicts principles included in international human rights agreements, it was still justified as a temporary emergency law under the circumstances, committee Chair Heikki Vestman told a press conference.

For the legislation to pass it must be accompanied by a procedure giving those who are rejected a possibility to appeal the decision, Vestman, who belongs to the ruling National Coalition Party, added.

(Reporting by Essi Lehto and Anne Kauranen, editing by Terje Solsvik and Louise Rasmussen)

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