Tuesday, October 3, 2023

The provocation against a group of people came to the fore in government negotiations – the professor’s assessment is whether there is “room for manoeuvre” in the section.


According to the Professor of Criminal Law, the space for maneuver has been used to the maximum.

The waiver of international obligations has indeed been maximally used in relation to articles on incitement against a national group, confirms Sakari Melander, professor of criminal law at the University of Helsinki. He says that at the moment it seems that Finland’s criminalization is insufficient from the point of view of the European Union.

Rather, it seems to be reducing the area of ​​punishable behavior rather than turning it in a different direction, Melander says.

Helsingin Sanomat reported on Monday that government negotiators have asked Justice Ministry experts to find out whether there is “room for manoeuvre” in criminal code sections on incitement against an ethnic group.

According to the response of the Ministry of Justice, there is no room for manoeuvre, as Finland has made all possible reservations regarding criminalization to the greatest extent in its national obligations.

a reservation related to the holocaust denial

There are several international obligations behind the incitement against a national group clause of the Finnish Criminal Code. When Finland has implemented them, it has dropped objections to them. A reservation means that, having committed to an international agreement, Finland wanted to deviate from some of the obligations of the agreement within the permitted limits.

One reservation relates to Holocaust denial.

– It is thought that it might be too restrictive in terms of freedom of speech if it were forbidden to speak critically about it in all situations. It is thought that, for example, historical research may bring up issues that need to be discussed and that it should be possible to allow discussion of such issues on the basis of factual reasons, says Melander.

In Norway and Sweden, inciting articles against a national group are of the same type as in Finland.

In its response, the Ministry of Justice reminded the government’s negotiators that the EU Commission has initiated infringement proceedings against Finland in 2021, because Finland has not adequately implemented the relevant Framework Decision of the Council of the EU.

Malander says that one of the reasons the commission started the process was because denying, minimizing or trivializing the Holocaust is not punishable in Finland. Sweden was also subject to the process.

Furthermore, it was submitted that Finland and Sweden do not consider sufficient criminal provocation against a national group in so far as it is directed at a person who is a member of a minority group.

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