CANCELLED: EuroStorie research seminar: Jukka Könönen 13.3.2020

UPDATE 13 MAR: We are cancelling the seminar because of the development in COVID-19 epidemic, following University of Helsinki safety recommendations.

Jukka Könönen (EuroStorie) – Policing dangerous mobile populations? Immigration law in action in ordering detentions


The lack of comprehensive data on the detention practices complicates the discussion and theoretical arguments on the role and functions of immigration detention. Drawing on my analysis of the detention records covering more than one thousand detention orders issued in 2016 in Finland, I discuss the operation of immigration detention starting from the actual practices in the application of the law.

While the Finnish Alien Act stipulates detention as the last security measure subject to individual assessment, in practice, the police have a wide discretionary power in ordering detention due to the ineffective judicial review process. Contrary to the prevalent conception of detainees as rejected asylum-seekers in the public and academic discussion in Finland, a majority of the detention orders are issued for Eastern European and African nationals based on suspected criminal offenses, effectual entry ban, non-compliant attitude, or other indicators of the risk of absconding (such as the lack of accommodation and social ties).

In addition to facilitating the enforcement of removals, immigration detention provides flexible preventive means for immigration authorities to enact crime control and manage irregular migration. Instead of the “politics of exception” or the expansion of the penal state, the protection of social order through preventive police measures could be a useful framework for understanding removal and detention policies in Europe.

About the speaker

Jukka Könönen is a post-doctoral researcher in Eurostorie subproject 3, Migration and the narratives of Europe as an “Area of freedom, security and justice”. His research interests include criminalization of migration, irregular migration, labour markets, and the European border regime.