In January – June this year more than 430 people were listed by police as having been illegally brought into Finland. Over the same period in 2002 the number was 250. According to figures released by the National Bureau of Investigation, people from the former Yugoslavia comprised the largest national group – 95 individuals.
They were followed by Iraqis, Turks, Bulgarians and Somalis. During the same period just under 800 people were found who were residing in Finland illegally. There were 21 criminal complaints for arranging illegal passage into the country, which was slightly fewer than last year. Some cases involved links with organised crime.
The number of asylum-seekers declined slightly from about 1,500 in the first half of last year to about 1,400 this year. In August there was a sharp increase in the use of “look-alike” passports. A number of Somalis travelling to Finland or another Nordic Country were turned back in Dubai for using another person’s passport in which the picture bears some resemblance to the bearer. The passports were granted to Somalis living in the Nordic Countries, and were being used by other people.
“They believe that when there are many travellers, the passport inspector might not notice that the bearer of the passport is not the same as the person in the picture”, says Jouko Ikonen of the NBI. Ten such people were stopped en route to Finland in August alone. “First the perpetrators buy or rent passports in Finland and deliver them to Africa”, Ikonen says. The passports themselves are genuine Finnish passports issued to naturalised citizens, or Finnish aliens’ passports for resident aliens who cannot get official travel documents from their home countries. The documents apparently have a market value of 500 to 2,000 US dollars.