Government examining international treaty obligations in light of child abuse allegations

Is the Finnish government trying to find some 'wiggle room' in the international treaty obligations, over calls from right wing politicians that they're not doing enough?

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File picture of Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen / Credit: Lauri Heikkinen, Valtioneuvosto

The Finnish government say it is re-examining the international treaties it’s signed up to, to make sure the country’s “interpretation” of them is correct says Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre), with regards to migrants and asylum seekers.

Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen says that he wants to emphasise that it’s not Finland’s intention to withdraw from any human rights treaties, but the Prime Minister hinted that if they think treaties need to be changed, the government may go down that route.

The announcement came after the cabinet was briefed by the National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen on the latest investigations into allegations that foreign-born men had sexually abused young girls in Oulu and Helsinki.

The Foreign Ministry is taking the lead to review international treaties such as the European Convention on Human Rights; the UN Convention Against Torture; and the UN Refugee convention as well as EU directives which govern refugee policies.

Mykkänen says that it benefits Finland to be part of a network of international agreements, but it was worth considering whether the country can “interpret” the treaties “differently”.

More resources for police

In a statement, the government says the problem of internet grooming is “very extensive” in Finland “and especially the numbers of children and young people contacted via the internet is growing”.

The government wants to make policing in this area a higher priority, and they’ll also draw up new precautionary measures over the next month with respect to schools, youth work and social welfare. Interior Minister Mykkänen is taking the lead on that.

Asylum decisions being scrutinised

The government is also taking another look at asylum seekers who receive a negative decision on their application and who should be deported to their home country, but where they can’t be because it is not safe to do so.

Finnish officials will talk to other countries in the EU facing a similar situation and find out if there’s a way to come up with a common solution.

There is likely to be new budget money made available to fund some of the initiatives that are being proposed.