Asylum seeker dies at Joutseno Detention Unit

A young North African asylum seeker has been found dead at the Joutseno detention centre in eastern Finland.

An asylum seeker died at the Joutseno reception centre detention unit in Lappeenranta’s Konnunsuo district on Sunday. He was a young asylum seeker from North Africa - writes

Reception centre director Jari Kähkönen confirmed the man’s death to Yle but declined to provide more details, citing privacy concerns.

“The news has shocked the reception centre’s residents and staff. I’m very sorry about what has happened,” Kähkönen says.

Officials say they are being offered crisis support.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, the NGO Right to Live - Stop Deportations said: "Yet another young asylum seeker has ended up in a desperate act at a detention unit....yesterday [he] had told other detainees that he would rather die in Finland than return to his home country. Asylum seekers had informed Joutseno staff of the youngster’s is apparent that the staff did not take the warning seriously. His countrymen found him in his room early this evening...Asylum seekers are now sitting in the corridor outside the office and [asking] why they are being kept in prison even though they have not committed any crimes...According to our information, the deceased asylum seeker had been imprisoned at Joutseno for months.

Asylum seekers at the Joutseno facility have been protesting about their situation.

Third death at unit

“There has been this kind of discussion,” Kähkönen confirmed to the Lappeenranta newspaper Etelä-Saimaa, which first reported the death.

Kähkönen says that those held in the unit are always told the reasons for their detention, but that “they don’t all always understand the legislation". He added that there has been one such ‘similar mortality’ in the facility’s 25-year history, along with one death from natural causes.

According to the local paper, the detention unit now holds 33 rejected asylum seekers awaiting deportation. Next week more will be brought in to fill its new 69-bed capacity, following a recent renovation.

Originally part of Joutseno, Konnunsuo is now part of the city of Lappeenranta, and lies some 15 kilometres from the Russian border. It was the site of a prison established during the Finnish Civil War of 1918, which closed in 2011.

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