New government strategy to fight immigrant sexual offenses

Ministers were pressed into action after a string of accusations of grooming & sexual abuse against young girls by asylum seekers.

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(L-R) Simon Elo (Blue), Kai Mykkänen (NCP) & Antti Kurvinen (Centre) present government's new plan to tackle immigrant sex offenses / Credit: Laura Kotila, Valtioneuvoston kanslia

The government has published its plans to combat sexual offenses and other crimes committed by immigrants, after a wave of accusations against asylum seekers in Oulu and Helsinki.

The latest plan was presented by Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen (NCP) who said that the aim was to “provide the authorities with sufficient powers and resources to prevent in advance and take action to deal with all sexual offenses”.

The new proposals contain nine measures to try and prevent crimes specifically by immigrants; and five sets of measures to prevent sexual offenses in general.

Some of those new measures, targeting immigrants in particular, include giving more consideration to criminal background when deciding on asylum cases; enhance surveillance of people who have been refused asylum, but who still haven’t been returned to their home countries and may pose a security threat.

The government also plans to prepare new legislative amendments to withdraw asylum protection from anyone who commits an aggravated offence in Finland, or people living abroad who pose a risk to Finland’s national security.

Combating general sexual offenses

The latest proposals are not only aimed at immigrants, but also apply more general to sex crimes.

There will be extra resources made available for internet police, who are on the front line of anti-grooming efforts; proposals to introduce longer prison sentences for sex offences; more cooperation between public authorities and the police; and enhanced efforts in schools to educate children about the dangers of grooming behaviour and how to act safely in social media.

Hospitals in Oulu and Helsinki will be the first to introduce a programme where a team of professionals can work together on cases of suspected sexual abuse of a young person.

Background to the action 

In December and January, a number of high profile allegations surfaced that asylum seekers, or foreign-born men, had groomed underage girls on the internet, then raped and sexually assaulted them.

One girl in Oulu took her own life during the autumn, after being linked to the accusations.

Amid the public outcry over the accusations, politicians from all sides of the political spectrum – but especially the right wing – made capital from it.

The Finns Party used the situation to call for tighter controls on immigration, or demanded that Finland close its borders, with some politicians saying the cases highlight how multiculturalism does not work in Finland.

Finns Party politicians virtually never comment when a white Finnish person is accused of a crime.