Saturday. 20.04.2024

The Ministry of the Interior announced the approval of amendments to the Nationality Act that will allow the authorities to strip dual nationals of their Finnish citizenship if their are found guilty of certain serious offences that may compromise the national security.

On Thursday 25 April the Finnish Government submitted those amendments to the Act for the approval of the President of the Republic. The new Nationality Act is scheduled to enter into force the next week, on 1 May 2019.

According to this new regulation, an individual may lose the Finnish citizenship if s/he is found guilty of an offence against the vital interests of Finland for which the most severe punishment provided is at least eight years of imprisonment. Such offences may include compromising the Finnish sovereignty, incitement to war, treason and espionage. For the loss of citizenship to be applied, the individual must have been sentenced to unconditional jail for at least five years.

But those are not the only cases. Finnish nationals may also be stripped of citizenship if they are convicted of a serious offence with terrorist intent, such as a breach of the prohibition on chemical weapons, a nuclear explosive offence, aggravated human trafficking, hostage taking, kidnapping or killing. In those cases, "a further condition is that the crime in question was committed against the vital interests of Finland", explained the Ministry of the Interior in a press release .

Not applicable to other types of crimes

The Ministry of the Interior points out in its release that other type of crimes and offences, although serious, "cannot be established as grounds for a loss of citizenship within the framework of the European Convention on Nationality". "International conventions binding on Finland have an impact on the provisions than can be issued on the loss of citizenship", says the text.

"Loss of citizenship is an exceptional sanction. Individuals convicted of treason and terrorist crimes have, however, lost their loyalty to Finland and the Finnish people," says Caretaker Minister of the Interior, Kai Mykkänen. 

With this decision the Government seems to close the debate opened before the elections about the convenience of changing the Nationality Act in order to remove the citizenship from those persons of foreign origin who commit aggravated crimes. A debate that was sometimes fueled by the government itself due to the commotion caused by the case of sexual crimes committed against minors by a group of men of foreign origin in the northern city of Oulu.

The Finnish Government also pointed out that it is not possible to lay down provisions on loss of citizenship with retroactive effect. Therefore, citizenship can only be lost on the grounds of such offences that have been committed after the amendment has entered into force. The new amendment does not allow, for example, annulment of Finnish citizenship of Finnish ISIS fighters who have fought in the conflict areas of the Middle East.

Finland passes a law to remove citizenship from those who attack its 'vital interests'