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Roma asylum seekers to be sent back from Finland
16-08-1999  

Radio Prague, August 16th - Some 20 Slovak Romanies who have unsuccessfully sought asylum in Finland claiming racial discrimination are likely to be sent to the Czech Republic. Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil told this to the CTK news agency on Tuesday. Alena Skodova reports:

The Regional court in Helsinki ruled that members of the Roma community from Slovakia, who have not received the refugee status, will be sent back to the most recent country of departure, Mr. Pospisil told the press. More than 1 thousand Slovak Romanies sought asylum in Finland in June, most of them arriving on flights from the Czech Republic or Hungary, while some have entered the European Union member country through Russia. A total of 21 Slovak Romanies were believed to have flown to Finland from the Czech Republic. "The Finnish court described the Czech Republic and Hungary as safe countries, that's why the Romanies were to have sought asylum in these two states," Pospisil told news people, adding that so far, the Finnish administration has not started with the deportation, but that it's only a question of time. The Finnish court's ruling follows the Dublin agreement, valid for the European Union members, according to which a request for asylum is dealt with in the first EU country where the asylum seeker has arrived. Helsinki imposed visa requirements for Slovaks following the arrival of a wave of Roma immigrants earlier this year. The Slovak news agency TASR, quoting Finnish TV, said the asylum seekers are expected to be returned back to the previous countries of departure in September and October. Some 1,200 Slovak Romanies are in refugee camps in Finland at present waiting to receive refugee status.

Numerous Czech Romanies have also sought asylum in recent years, claiming racial discrimination. Canada has reimposed a visa requirement on Czechs because of an influx of Roma there back in 1997 while Britain has warned that it may be forced to take a similar step.




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