21st Jan 2019

Belgium rejects Finnish asylum seeker's application

Belgium has refused to grant political asylum to a Finnish citizen, who had refused to take part in Finnish military service.

The Raad van State, the highest administrative court of Belgium, rejected the appeal of Jussi Hermaja, by saying that the asylum procedure should not be taken up once again.

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  • Belgium refused to grant political asylum to a Finnish citizen (Photo: European Commission)

The Belgian Commissioner General for Refugees had previously also rejected Mr Hermaja's asylum application, stating that the Finnish law is neither discriminatory nor punitive, and that the length of civilian national service is not unreasonably long, writes Helsingin Sanomat.

Mr Hermaja refused to take part in both the military service and the alternative civilian service in Finland - citing pacifist beliefs - and was sentenced to 197 days in prison.

The Finn then started a legal process to seek asylum in Belgium, as there is no military service there and its legislation recognizes EU-citizens as possible asylum seekers.

"To admit that there are problems of human rights abuses in another EU member state puts the whole of the European Union in a difficult position", says Hermaja's press release.

"The EU likes to present itself as a promoter of human rights around the world. This is another possible reason for the negative decision in this case".

The Finnish authorities will now have to decide whether to ask Belgium for his extradition. Mr Hermaja has also appealed against his prison sentence by the Finnish state to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

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