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Amnesty International and the Refugee Advice Center are calling on Finnish parliamentarians to vote against a proposed emergency law, arguing that its passage would undermine Finland’s commitment to human rights and the rule of law.

The government’s proposed emergency law is seen as contradictory to Finland’s constitution, international human rights treaties, and European law.

Legal experts consulted by the Constitutional Law Committee have overwhelmingly opposed the law, deeming its enactment impossible. Both the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Refugee Agency have demanded its rejection. Despite these warnings, the legislation is still being advanced.

“When Parliament votes on this proposal, it will essentially be deciding whether Finland remains committed to human rights and the rule of law. The emergency law would greenlight violence at the border and mark a step towards eroding the rule of law. Is this really the path Finland wants to take? I hope MPs do not let this happen,” said Frank Johansson, Director of Amnesty International’s Finland section.

“The proposed law is utterly unsustainable. This is clearly demonstrated by the expert consensus against it. MPs must listen to what these experts are saying. In a state governed by the rule of law, the only possible solution is to reject this proposal,” Johansson added.

The emergency law contravenes the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits returning individuals to a country where they would face danger or torture. This principle is absolute and cannot be violated under any circumstances, including war or national emergency. The law could result in people being sent back to life-threatening situations or torture.

Beyond its legal issues, the law would cause significant human suffering and distress for those seeking protection. Amnesty’s research shows that elsewhere in Europe, closed borders and so-called pushbacks have led to increased human rights violations, violence by border authorities, and forced asylum seekers to take more dangerous routes.

“No emergency law can legalize pushbacks. The European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union have addressed numerous cases of pushbacks at the borders of Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania. Currently, there are over 30 cases against these countries in the European Court of Human Rights. Some asylum seekers crossing Finland’s eastern border have already experienced violent pushbacks in these countries before arriving here,” Johansson noted.

The proposed law aims to prevent asylum applications at the eastern border and push people back to Russia.

“Lawmakers need to consider the situation in Russia. Russia is not a safe option for people needing protection. There is no functioning asylum system in Russia, and the human rights situation is dire. People could be sent back to countries where they fled human rights abuses,” said Pia Lindfors, Director of the Refugee Advice Center.

A far better alternative to the emergency law would be to handle asylum applications through normal procedures. If necessary, an arrangement center could be established near the border to register asylum seekers. Additionally, the possibility of submitting asylum applications at Finnish embassies has not been thoroughly explored.

Amnesty International and the Refugee Advice Center stress that rejecting the emergency law is the only viable solution to maintain Finland's integrity as a state committed to human rights and the rule of law.