Finland sends back first Congolese asylum-seekers
Congolese asylum-seeker Goloze Wuluwulu, who has been living in Vaasa, received bad news last week. The Finnish Directorate of Immigration rejected his asylum application.
"I still have one more chance to appeal the decision to the Helsinki Administrative Court. If their decision is also negative, I don't know what I will do."
Wuluwulu, who has lived for nearly three years in Finland, works as an aide in local schools. He says that he fled government oppression and tribal problems.
"For instance, one pastor was sent back from France to the Congo last May, and a week later he was in prison facing a death sentence, because the government said that he had spoken disrespectfully of President Kabila in his sermon."
"Congo is not a democratic country. It is not safe there", Wuluwulu says.
Amnesty International has a long and dark entry in its annual report concerning the country's problems. Tens of thousands killed, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, and torture take place.
The Directorate of Immigration insists, however, that the insecurity of a country is always assessed from the point of view of the individual applicant.
Although asylum decisions are often negative, nobody has been deported from Finland to the Democratic Republic of Congo in recent years until earlier this month, when a Congolese family with four children was sent back to their home country after spending four years in Finland.
Päivi Keskitalo, a lawyer for the Refugee Advice Centre, has said that the gap in repatriations could be linked with a decision last summer by the European Court of Human Rights, according to which Finland could not send back a Congolese asylum-seeker.
"There was a long gap in implementing the decisions with respect to the Congolese, because there was a need to ascertain if the court's decision was based on the situation in the Congo in general, or on the individual case at hand", Keskitalo explains. She now fears that more repatriations may follow.