Finland Bolsters Border Security Amid Fears of Weaponized Migration

Finland Bolsters Border Security Amid Fears of Weaponized Migration

Finland is strengthening its border with Russia because of concerns that Russia might use migration as a weapon.

The Finnish government is planning to create new strict legislation and will keep the European Union (EU) border agency, Frontex, in place to counter the threat.

Finland extends Frontex at border

According to YLE, Frontex will continue supporting the Finnish Border Guard at the eastern border until at least next autumn.

Finland asked for this extension last April, and Frontex agreed on May 17th.

Marko Saareks, deputy chief of the Border Guard, said that the most important thing is the message that Finland is not alone in the situation.

Frontex currently has 26 border guards in Finland, including six at Helsinki Airport, along with patrol vehicles and surveillance technology.

Government proposes immediate deportations law

Next week, the Finnish government will ask Parliament to approve a strict new law.

This law would let border officials immediately force would-be asylum seekers back to Russia in certain circumstances.

The proposed law admits that this would temporarily break Finland’s international human rights agreements.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo stressed the need for this law, saying that since Russia controls who comes to Finland’s border, where they come from, and when they arrive, Finland cannot allow this. Therefore, the country must strengthen its laws.

Eastern border closed indefinitely

In late 2023, about 1,300 asylum seekers came across the eastern border.

The Finnish Immigration Service has processed 365 applications and approved only six. 

Since mid-December, the border stations have been closed to passenger traffic, with only the Vainikkala railway crossing open for freight trains.

In April, the government decided to keep the eastern border closed indefinitely because they expect migrants might try to enter again if it reopens.

So far, the improved spring weather has not led to more illegal crossings through wilderness areas.

Concerns over proposed legislation

The bill, called the “refoulement act” by critics, has faced heavy criticism. Critics claimed that it would let the government temporarily suspend accepting applications for international protection at or near Finnish borders.

The goal is to prevent other countries from using migrants to create problems and pressure Finland.

However, legal experts remained concerned about the bill.

Professor Emeritus Martti Koskenniemi from the University of Turku said that he is surprised the bill will be presented to Parliament in its current form, arguing that it clearly violates international human rights.

Measures to remove border migrants

The new law aims to stop migrants from entering Finland by using fences, signs, and verbal orders.

If migrants do enter and a border guard decides they do not need international protection, they could be sent back.

The government promises that border guards will be trained to recognize truly vulnerable people. They will also use tools like phone interpretation to communicate with applicants.

Legal issues, no appeal mechanism

A main legal issue with the new bill is that it does not allow migrants to appeal if they are removed from the country. This means they cannot ask a court to review the decision.

The bill states that migrants cannot appeal a removal decision but must be given a written explanation of why they are being removed and information on how to apply for international protection.

Military Service Act revised for emergencies

Along with the deportation law, Finland is planning a substantial change to its military service rules at the request of the Finnish Border Guard.

This change would allow reservists to help with border security when professional border guards cannot handle it alone.

Reservists would be called up for up to 30 days to help with support tasks under the supervision of regular border officials.

The government would decide to use this change based on a proposal from the president.

Critical juncture for Finland’s immigration

As Finland deals with the challenges of weaponized migration, the proposed Border Security Act is an important step in its immigration policy.

While the government stresses the need for strong border control, the international community will watch closely to see if Finland respects human rights

The result of this new law will affect not only how Finland handles asylum seekers but also its relationship with Russia and its reputation in the European Union.