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Finnish Parliament moves forward with law to block migrants at Russia border

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Finnish Parliament moves forward with law to block migrants at Russia border
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  • Committee chair Heikki Vestman argues the plan is justified as a temporary emergency measure.
  • The legislation must include an appeal procedure for rejected asylum seekers.
  • No migrants have arrived across the Russian border since March 13.
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An influential committee of legislators said on Tuesday that Finland’s parliament could approve a government proposal to temporarily reject asylum seekers arriving across the border from Russia, pending some amendments.

The chair of the parliament’s constitutional committee announced that the expected approval would pave the way for the controversial proposal to be voted on in a plenary session in due course.

Finland has accused Russia of weaponizing migration by allegedly encouraging hundreds of asylum seekers last year from countries such as Syria and Somalia to cross the border, a claim denied by the Kremlin.

Helsinki believes Moscow is promoting the crossings in retaliation for Finland’s joining NATO, which supports Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.

After shutting all land border crossings with Russia late last year, preventing regular travel, the Finnish government presented legislation in May allowing border guards to stop migrants who continue to arrive from seeking asylum.

Committee chair Heikki Vestman told a press conference that while the plan contradicts principles included in international human rights agreements, it is still justified as a temporary emergency measure under the circumstances.

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Vestman, a member of the ruling National Coalition Party, emphasized that the legislation must include a procedure allowing those who are rejected to appeal the decision for it to pass.

Official data shows that no migrants have arrived across the border with Russia since March 13.

Before the vote, the committee heard from 18 experts, all of whom opposed approving the law.

In the end, 15 out of the 17 parliamentarians on the constitutional committee backed the law, with only the representatives of the Left Alliance and Green Party objecting.

“For the first time the Finnish state explicitly ignores the human rights system and European Union legislation,” Left Alliance lawmaker Anna Kontula said, adding that this could set a dangerous precedent.

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