Emergency government talks as new Helsinki sex abuse allegations revealed

Coalition government leaders will meet on Monday and Thursday after growing political pressure to respond to latest accusations.

File picture of government coalition leaders (L-R) Sampo Terho (Blue), Juha Sipilä (Centre), Petteri Orpo (NCP) / Credit: Laura Kotila, Valtioneuvoston kanslia

The three parties which make up the Finnish government coalition are set to hold a series of emergency talks this week, in the wake of sex abuse allegations in Oulu and Helsinki.

Today, police said they detained three suspects in eastern Helsinki “all of whom are foreign born” in connection with suspected sexual abuse of a minor child. Police suspect the crimes including rape have been commited between the beginning of November 2018, and January. They expect to release more information on Monday.

These fresh accusations come just days after police in Oulu launched an investigation into four new cases of sex offense against girls under the age of 15. Officers said on Friday that they had arrested foreign-born men in connection with the allegations – two aged 20, two under 18 – as the new investigation looks at allegations of rape, gross sexual abuse of a child and sexual abuse of a child said to have taken place during summer 2018.

The latest Oulu arrests follows on from another case in December, where eight foreign-born men were detained while police investigate earlier allegations of sex abuse, including rape, against girls under 15. Police also confirmed that one of the girls had died in the autumn, seeming to confirm online speculation that one alleged victim had committed suicide.

Government coalition meetings

On Sunday evening Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) said that he would meet with his coalition partners from the National Coalition Party and Blue Reform on Monday and Thursday to discuss the latest developments.

Sipilä had previously resisted calls from Blue Reform for immediate talks, but appears to have caved to political pressure following Sunday’s new Helsinki sex abuse allegations.

“As a result of the inhuman and reprehensible events in Oulu and Helsinki, the government will meet next week in negotiations both on Tuesday and Friday” Sipilä tweeted.

Politicians weigh in on sex abuse accusations

Over the weekend Finnish politicians have had a lot to say about the sex abuse allegations, from Oulu and Helsinki.

President Sauli Niinistö said in a statement the nation was shocked that this had happened, and that it is “unacceptable that some of the asylum seekers, and even those who have been granted asylum have brought evil here and created insecurity here”.

Social Democrat parliamentary leader Antti Lindtman asked online whether there could still be new measures adopted during this current parliament session against sex offenders, concluding that it was indeed still possible. He called for unity on the subject from the government and opposition.

Left Alliance leader Li Andersson called the Oulu allegations “unspeakably monstrous” and offered her “profound condolences” to the victims and relatives.

Green party member of parliament Ozan Yanar, himself an immigrant, said it was understandable that people were shocked “but I hope that this will not be used for hate-mongering against people who have nothing to do with the matter”.

Meanwhile right wing politicians from the Finns Party have used the police investigations to score political points. Chairman Jussi Halla-aho didn’t offer any sympathies to the victims or their families on Twitter, but instead chose to criticise the Prime Minister, Interior Minister, and the media.

In 2009 Halla-aho was convicted by the Finnish Supreme Court of disturbing religious worship and of ethnic agitation for things he wrote about the religion of Islam, and Somalis in Finland.