New law makes it a crime to threaten people because of their job

The idea behind the new law is to cut down on the amount of threats and harassment received by public officials or people working in areas like healthcare, journalism or teaching.

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File picture of Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) at Helsinki briefing, 3rd April 2020 / Credit: Laura Kotila, VNK

A new proposal from the Ministry of Justice would make it a crime in Finland for someone to threaten another person because of their job.

The draft bill means a prosecutor could bring charges for unlawful threats if they’ve been directed at someone who works for example in health care or teaching, researchers and journalists among other professions.

It would also apply to anyone working in a position of public trust such as a local council.

“In Finland, unfortunately, it is becoming more and more common for people who do their work or carry out an assignment in a position of trust to be exposed to various types of harassment or threats. It is important to try to reverse this trend” says Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP).

The new law would bring changes in how suspected crimes are reported or charges pressed.

At present a prosecutor can bring charges of unlawful threats only if the victim themselves wants to press charges. In future a third party – perhaps the victim’s employer – could insist on charges being brought; or the prosecutor could bring charges if it is in the public interest.

However to avoid frivolous or bogus cases the suspected crime would have to meet a legal threshold where the victim has cause to be afraid that their personal security or property is in serious danger.