Remorseful Somali man awaiting deportation fears return to former home country
A repentant young man sits in Jokela Prison. Unrest in Somalia drove Said out of his country at the age of ten, but now, after spending 15 years in Finland, he faces deportation to Africa.
“I regret what I did. I would like to have another chance in Finland”, the 26-year-old man says in a prison interview with Helsingin Sanomat.
Officials feel that the interests of Finnish society override the personal interests of Said. Before Christmas, the Supreme Administrative Court kept in force a court ruling ordering his deportation and that of another Somali man.
Said has been convicted of a number of crimes of violence and theft. Some of the crimes have been serious. He has been given two prison sentences of over two years.
Said has not integrated into Finland.
Or so the trial records say, but Said feels that the information in the papers is partly nonsense.
According to the Finnish Immigration Service, he has lived mainly on social benefits. However, Said says that he has had a number of jobs in the Helsinki region, working at a shop, and a café, as well as delivering newspapers and cleaning.
“I have also been of use to this country. Not many have had this many jobs. What more connections should I have with Finland?”
Said says that at one point he was called MacGyver, (from the television series), because of his ability to come up with solutions to difficult situations.
The situation changed when he moved to a youth home in the early part of the decade. It was there that he became acquainted with intoxicants and crime.
Said suspects that some malevolent “snitch” may have spread false information about him to officials. He does not trust representatives of the state very much.
“They hate me.”
Said says that contrary to what some officials have said, he maintained contact with his son, who was born in Finland.
Said also denies claims by Finnish officials that his mother lives in Somalia.
“My mother lives in Finland. My 5-7 brothers are also here.”
On the other hand, Finnish officials do not consider Said to be particularly trustworthy.
The Finnish Immigration Service says that he originally came to Finland under a false identity in a case of family unification.
Said has given both 1983 and 1985 as his year of birth, depending on the situation.
Officials also say that the allegedly false claim that Said’s mother lives in Somalia came from Said himself.
However, not all officials want to see him expelled.
The Ombudsman for Minorities feels that the expulsion is unreasonable, considering that Said has lived most of his life in Finland.
Said is to be deported to Somaliland, the more peaceful northern part of Somalia, where he lived until the age of nine.
“I don’t remember much anything from there, and I don’t know anyone.”
Finnish officials say that he can be sent there, because he is a member of the local dominant Ishaak clan. According to a report by the International Organisation for Migration in May 2007, the clan can help him get back into the local society.
Said does not believe that the clan will take him under his wing, and he is afraid to return to Africa.
“The papers say something about some clan. It is all a lie. I’ll be killed there”, he says.
Said has not lost all hope of staying in Finland. He plans to appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights.
He also wonders if President Tarja Halonen might be able to pardon him.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Helsinki officials and Somali community groups ponder youth crime issue (10.10.2005)
Helsinki youth with Somali backgrounds tired of constant suspicion (2.10.2005)
Deportations of Somalis convicted of street robbery deferred (24.8.2007)
Ombudsman for Minorities objects to deportations of Somali criminals (16.8.2006)