Finland – Supreme Administrative Court finds that imprisonment sentence against Kurdish applicant amounts to persecution

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

On 12 February, the Finnish Supreme Administrative Court ruled on the proportionality of a prison sentence imposed for pro-Kurdish political activities in Turkey.

The case concerned a Turkish national of Kurdish ethnicity, who applied for international protection in Finland arguing that he was facing persecution in Turkey in the form of unjust prosecution and punishment for his political activity and draft evasion. Although the Finnish Immigration Service found the applicant to be credible, it rejected the application arguing that the applicant was not likely to be subject to unreasonable punishment in Turkey for his political activities as these were not significant. Subsequently, the Administrative Court also dismissed the applicant’s appeal based on the same line of argument.

On appeal, the Supreme Administrative Court first cited UNHCR’s handbook to reiterate that, while states generally have the right to prosecute and punish criminal offences, international protection must be granted where the prosecution or punishment in the individual case was disproportionate or discriminatory to the extent of amounting to persecution. After analysing the criterion of necessity in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, the Court found that the imprisonment sentence of two years for the accusation of spreading terrorist propaganda on Facebook was not proportional.  

Taking into account that there was no indication that the applicant had instigated violent acts or made any statements encouraging such acts, the Court held that this sentence constituted an unreasonable punishment amounting to persecution. The decision was annulled and the Immigration Services were instructed to issue a new decision on the applicant’s case.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                                                       


Persecution (acts of)
Persecution Grounds/Reasons
Political Opinion