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Unaccompanied minor was not granted express passport to replace damaged one - trip to mother was cancelled

Deputy-Ombudsman Lindstedt rebukes Helsinki-Vantaa National Traffic Police

13.11.2008

Deputy-Ombudsman Jukka Lindstedt has criticised the National Traffic Police at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport for having failed to grant an express passport to an unaccompanied minor on her way to visit her Finnish mother in Bulgaria.

It had been discovered at the passport control that the girl's passport was damaged. The information page was loose and had been taped in place.  The passport control official instructed the girl to go to the National Traffic Police unit at the airport to get an express passport for the trip. However, a senior constable there refused to grant the passport, because the girl was unable to present her custodians' consent to apply for a passport, as required under the Passport Act.

Deputy-Ombudsman Lindstedt takes the view that the senior constable and his superior acted erroneously in deciding not to grant her a passport and thereby preventing her from travelling to her mother. In this case the girl did have a valid passport, which she had earlier obtained with a custodian's consent. Thus there was no question of the situation being one in which a minor had tried to leave the country or apply for a passport without a custodian's consent. The Deputy-Ombudsman points out that the constitutional right to free mobility that everyone enjoys includes the right to leave the country, and an authority must interpret laws in a manner that is conducive to upholding fundamental and human rights.

The police had also failed to look sufficiently into possibilities of contacting the girl's custodian abroad.


Additional information will be provided by Legal Adviser Astrid Geisor-Goman, tel. +358 (0)9 432 3365.