Morning Headlines: Thursday 22nd February 2018

News Now Finland morning news headlines and weather first, every weekday at 09:00

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Amnesty Criticises Finland’s Human Rights Record

In its new annual report, human rights watchdog Amnesty International has criticised Finland for weakening the rights of asylum seekers. This is a situation that Amnesty says has been worsening in recent years. The group also draws attention to the human rights impact of Finland’s new intelligence agency laws, saying states have an obligation to respect, protect and implement key human rights such as privacy and freedom of speech. The report criticizes the lack of action to curb violence against women in Finland.

Foreign-background Voters 

New research released this morning shows some interesting signs of more political engagement among foreign-background voters. The share of foreign-based voters in Finland is growing rapidly, but voting activity has been relatively weak until now. At last spring’s municipal elections voting activity by Somali-background voters rose sharply by 20 points to 57%. Researchers say the accumulated experience of Finnish society has increased their impact.

Capital Metro Delays

Commuters on the capital region’s metro system face travel disruption this morning, according to operator HSL. Due to a technical malfunction at Kulosaari, metro traffic is running only intermittently until at least the middle of the day. HSL cautions that you might have to wait up to 15 minutes for a metro today.

Police Investigate Fatal Stabbing

Police in eastern Finland are investigating a stabbing incident that happened late Wednesday night. One person died and two more were taken to hospital after an incident at a private residence in Lieksa. All three are said to be local residents. Police have detained a number of people in connection with the event which they are investigating as a murder and two cases of attempted murder.

Estonia Anniversary Marked

Estonia’s 100th anniversary of independence is marked with two solemn events in Helsinki today. This afternoon, there will be a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the service and sacrifice of Estonian volunteers who fought for Finland during World War II. Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö (Blue) will lead the Finnish representation at that event. Meanwhile another memorial is held for Finns who fought in the 1919 Estonian Revolutionary War. That event is attended by Krista Kiuru (SDP), Chair of the Estonian Friendship Group in parliament. Estonia’s official holiday to mark their 100th anniversary of independence takes place on Saturday.

Political Polls

A new poll this morning in Helsingin Sanomat newspaper shows the National Coalition Party still the most popular in Finland with 21.7% support. The Social Democrats are second with 19% while the Prime Minister’s Centre Party has recovered some ground at 16.3% (that’s up from 15.6% in the last Helsingin Sanomat poll). This week, Prime Minister Sipilä marked 1000 days in office. The Gallup poll interviewed more than 2300 people between 22nd January and 15th February. The margin of error is 2%.

Olympic Update: 

It’s a quieter day for Finnish athletes at the Pyeongchang Olympics today – after the high of winning a women’s ice hockey bronze medal (and the low of the men’s hockey team crashing out of the competition empty-handed). But Finnish athletes are taking part in the 4x5km cross-country skiing, and the Nordic combined events as well.

Thursday Morning Weather:

The whole country is still plunged into cold weather this morning, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI. The cold northern airflow continues but after a bitterly cold night the temperatures will ease slightly in the sunshine for most of Finland today. Temperatures range this morning from -10°C in Åland to -24°C in some central and eastern border areas. It will be bright and sunny in the capital area with temperatures at -15°C. In Lapland temperatures range from -12°C to -23C. Look out for snow in Vaasa.