What should be done to the existence of extremist organizations? “They should be banned!” said Jari Lindström, the minister of justice and employment, after the press conference at the prime minister’s official residence, Kesäranta, on Monday evening.
Minister Lindström, the Minister of the Interior Paula Risikko and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä held a news conference to enlighten the media of possible changes to the law about extremist organizations. The National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen, who has been investigating the matter, was present as well.
The government decided to delve into the matter after a member of the neo-Nazi organization Finnish Resistance Movement SVL, assaulted a young man on September 10th at the Helsinki railway station. The man died after being released from the hospital.
But it turns out that changes in legislation are not needed. The current law already provides the necessary tools to combat violent and racist organizations, but the implementation leaves room for improvement.
According to the current law, an organization can be shut down if its members essentially disobey the law and good manners. “We have the law but it’s not implemented,” said minister Risikko. “We need to develop the implementation.”
In the past few weeks, the National Police Board has been brooding over whether the operation of Finnish Resistance Movement could be shut down. The problem, according to the police commissioner Kolehmainen, is the phrase “essentially disobey the law,” which at least in the past has made the shutdown more difficult. In the future, the National Police Board commits to improving the implementation of the law.
Banning the operation of SVL would be the first of its kind in Finland. It would need a court order and after a ban, it would naturally be illegal for SVL to operate. According to the police commissioner Kolehmainen, one shouldn’t, however, think that banning an organization would sweep the problem of violent extremist organizations under the rug. “We must interfere into the action by putting weight on preemptive effort,” he said.
The use of organizational symbols was on Minister Risikko’s table too. The Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice will immediately begin an evaluation, which aims to forbid the use of symbols of such extremist organizations that the court has banned.
The ministers also discussed whether the time frame to announce demonstrations to the police should be extended from six hours to more. In some cases, a six-hour notice does not provide enough time for the police to prepare for the protest.
The government is also adding more resources to employing more internet police officers to interfere with the actions of violent extreme organizations.
In the future, the police will put extra effort into investigating hate crimes. “The hate motive has not necessarily been investigated in a sufficient way during a criminal investigation,” Risikko said.
Prime Minister Sipilä stressed that the law by itself is not enough to prevent crimes related to racism and violence.”The phenomenon requires a much deeper analysis of values. This is a much deeper subject than simply changing the legislation.”