Matter concerning aliens – International protection – Asylum – Political opinion – Imprisonment – Unreasonable punishment – Turkey – Country information

A citizen of Turkey, A, had sought international protection on the basis of unreasonable prosecution ordered against him in his home country, which equals persecution. According to A, he has been accused of the crime of being a member of a terrorist organisation and spreading propaganda material for a terrorist organisation. He is not a member of the PKK, while he does support PKK and advocates the matter of the Kurds. The Finnish Immigration Service had accepted the main facts presented by A. However, the Immigration Service assessed that A would not be unreasonably punished in the case of a charge being pressed against him because, among other factors, his political activities had not been significant in nature. The Administrative Court rejected A’s appeal.

A has since then provided additional information according to which, as a result of the charge, he has been sentenced to imprisonment for over two years for spreading terrorist organisation propaganda. The matter in question were photographs that A had posted on his Facebook account and his comments in favour of the PKK.

The Supreme Administrative Court stated that it is obvious that a state has the right to press charges for terrorist crimes and sentence criminal punishments for them. When reviewed on a case-by-case basis, such prosecution or punishment can result in the need of international protection, if they are deemed unreasonable or discriminating. In this case, the essential ruling was whether the criminal conviction sentenced to A in Turkey, should be deemed unreasonable punishment as defined in Section 87a(2) of the Aliens Act.

The extensive case law that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has in the form of appeals against Turkey concerning breaches of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly (Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights) were taken into account as country information. The review also studied legal practice in circumstances in which the charges or punishments have concerned PKK. Referring to the case law constituted by the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, country information was retrieved concerning the situations in which charges are pressed and the types of punishments sentenced for them in Turkey. These furthermore helped to establish whether legislation and legal practice in Turkey follow the human rights standards of such cases, which could be prove of importance in the assessment of the need of international protection.

In the review process of this matter, attention was paid to the fact that nothing suggested that A had in any circumstances provoked violence or expressed opinions that idealise violence. The Supreme Administrative Court found that A’s activities were, in essence, comparable to the many cases in which the European Court of Human Rights has stated that freedom of speech or freedom of assembly has been breached and drawn attention to the degree of severity of the imprisonment. The Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the imprisonment to which A was sentenced constituted an unreasonable degree of punishment in proportion to the description of the act recorded in the judgment. Therefore, the punishment was to be deemed an act of persecution as referred to in Section 87 a (2)(3) of the Aliens Act.

Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 1, Paragraph A, Subparagraph 2.

Directive 2011/95/EU on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content of the protection granted (recast Qualification Directive) Article 2, Subparagraph D, Article 4, Paragraph 1, 3 and 4, Article 9, Paragraph 2c, Article 10 Paragraph 1e.

Aliens Act, Sections 87, 87a, 87b, 88c, 88d, 88e

Published 12.2.2019