How big cliché it is to start this article with the statement “The world is changing and so is Finland” or even mention Prime Minister Juha Sipilä´s quote “We are no longer an island”?
Well, a cliché or not, this is the absolute true and there is nothing more important than thinking about it. Why?
Because with all these changes it is clear that the whole establishment should be reviewed and renewed; a very delicate and complex thing to do.
Finland needs a Constitution review, new laws and a lot of education not only for those who arrive in the country but for the nationals too. And educating the nationals, making them understand that their country is no longer what it used to be – and there is absolute nothing to do in order to make it “go back the way it was” – is very difficult. However, all discussions which ascended after the Turku stabbings have been very important to show how realistic the government is regarding these necessities, and how important it is for us, the people, to talk about it.
On my previews article I wrote about some important topics related to the attack in Turku such as:
- how concerning it is the slow decision-making process on asylum seeking due the large number of undocumented applicants;
- the necessity of better control over people who have gotten negative decisions on their asylum applications;
- the necessity of more strict laws against radical expressions in religion and ideology of any kind.
A lot has happened after the stabbings, and putting aside my political preferences or personal opinion about the present government, the aftermath of the Turku stabbings is not done yet. It is positive, though, the fact that the government agrees on the necessity of changes in laws and in the Constitution.
“The right to life is more important than the right to privacy” – said Prime Minister Juha Sipilä during an audience with ambassadors, reported on the 22.8 by Finnish press. When talking about national and internal security this is unquestionable.
Very important things were said during this audience, topics as important as the necessity of changes in the constitution, the necessity of changing laws to make deportation faster and more efficient on cases of negative asylum decisions, specially if the decision was made based on evidences that the person arrived in Finland under a false statement.
Prime Minister declared the government concerns on situations when police receives information on potential threats but cannot deeply investigate them or take more strict actions. According to him, the Constitution and the laws set limits which disturb the effectiveness and the speed of the actions to be taken.
Considering Turku´s case and the fact that 7 months before the attack police received several evidences on the attacker´s radicalization, and more, the fact that he was running free in the country after having his application on asylum denied , I believe there is no better argument to show how much these changes are necessary.
Changing the Constitution, however, is extremely complex and the main issue here is: we need it to be done as fast as possible but it´s almost impossible to put five-sixth of the MPs on the same page so fast (this is the amount of necessary votes the government needs to have a bill approved) since many of them consider these changes unnecessary and “over-reacting”.
Another important thing that happened along this month was that it seems the government realized how important it is to invest in cross-border cooperation in order to speed up the decision-making process in an efficient way. Dealing with more than 20 thousand applications for a small country like Finland, with lack of real experienced people (in numbers) to analyze the cases, will surely bring bad results: it clearly maximizes unfair decisions and bad mistakes on who stays and who goes. I really think we need help to make the system more efficient.
Changes in the citizenship and aliens laws
This was another important topic the government expressed to understand the necessity of changes.
According to the Minister for European Affairs, Culture and Sports, Sampo Terho, Finnish terrorism-related laws have been reviewed. Changes in the Nationality Act have been also discussed as well as the loss of Finnish citizenship for all dual-citizens found guilty on terrorist acts.
But how deep these discussions have gone and what would be considered as a terrorist act hasn´t been explained yet (you can read more about it here).
This topic is one of the most important since it challenges our humanity. All topics related to asylum actually do it but establishing boundaries on humanitarian help is so complicated. But I understand it has to be done since there are more problems here than only giving shelter to a desperate person, and why? Because it´s impossible to live in Finland with dignity like this. When people stay in the country illegal they have absolute no rights. Living in Finland without a social security number takes away all chances of development a person might have. You can´t get a job and if someone gives one while you are on these terms, you can be sure that you rights have been ripped off. The person is not helping you but it´s commiting a crime. There have been cases of undocumented people reporting exploitation and cases when they were used as tools for the accomplishment of illegal activities.
Besides that, living in Finland illegally you have no rights for using the health system, not even the private sector would assist you since for everything you need a social security number or a valid ID. So yes, we need measures to avoid people hiding undocumented people and also laws which would allow the decision on the next step after the application is denied be taken faster. Losing track of people just can´t happen.
On the 8th of September Finnish news reported that MPs, leaders of all nine groups in Parliament, had a meeting to discuss internal security. Details about the meeting were not yet given and here we are, waiting for results.
This is a very important moment for our society. We need to be realistic and realize the necessity of changes our country faces. Changes which might not please us all. As people, I think the most important thing at the moment is to be analytical and try to get rid of prejudice. Prejudice and hate are the worst enemies we face right now. We need, more than ever, learn how to separate what is a realistic way of thinking from what is prejudice, and never, never give up on our humanity. Very difficult, specially after tragedies but we have to be able to do it.
To finish off, I am not against giving asylum. Not at all. I just don´t agree we should open the boundaries without limits. This is a very serious matter which demands strict rules and laws to assure safety and rights to everybody. This is much more matter of national and internal security than a humanitarian matter.