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Iraqi refugees demonstrating against deportation to Iraq in Helsinki, October 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

A citizens’ initiative, signed by 54,000 people, demanding that the law for deporting immigrants would be amended to include an option to deport any offender regardless of the length of their prison sentence was debated in the parliament on Tuesday.

The initiative was rejected.

“From the viewpoint of criminal justice, the current legislation already provides an opportunity to deport because of minor acts. Even a fine could be enough,” said Juho Eerola, an MP in the Finns Party and the chair of the Administration Committee.

The Administration Committee doesn’t see any grounds for loosening the law on deportation a foreigner who has committed a crime.

According to committee, the citizens’ initiative was based on false information.

“Like the old idiom says, ‘ei melatta merelle (don’t go to the sea without a paddle)’.” In this case, one has gone to the sea without the boat and life vest. The initiative would only hinder the deportation of those who have committed a crime,” said Mikko Kärnä, an MP of the Center Party.

The MPs in the plenary session agreed that citizens’ initiatives are an important part of democracy. For an initiative to be eligible for a debate in the parliament, it has to be signed by 50,000 people.

“It doesn’t, however, make sense that the parliament has to process half-baked citizens’ initiatives, especially if they are obviously erroneous,” said MP Aino-Kaisa Pekonen from the Left Alliance.