How tabloids like Ilta-Sanomat reinforce our prejudices against immigrants and refugees

by , under Enrique

Tabloids like Ilta-Sanomat have a lot to learn about fairness, which is the cornerstone of all good news reporting. But tabloids aren’t interested in fairness but in sensationalism. A story by Ilta-Sanomat is headlined: ”Two Somalis use [fake] Yemeni passports to travel to Finland.” 

Even if the story suggests that these Somalis are committing a crime because they travel with false passports, there is much more to the case than meets the eye. If the reporters would have bothered to read a related story on 4 News in the UK, the angle of their story would have probably been different.

According to 4 News, hundreds of asylum seekers who used false passports to travel to the UK in the past ten years were abused and wrongly convicted.  As a result, the court of appeal quashed the convictions of five victims because they were denied a justifiable defense of the charge.

None of the lawyers told one of the victims like “Jonathan,” who appears on the program, any chance of defending himself. The lawyers advised Jonathan to plead guilty to the charges, which landed him a conviction and a six-month prison sentence.

Apart from having a criminal record, which worsened his chances of finding employment, he was denied for seven years the right to see his wife and child in the U.S. His conviction denied him a visa.

Go here to see the 4 News report.

Kuvankaappaus 2013-7-31 kello 15.12.24

Read full story here.

Migrant Tales has published numerous Ilta-Sanomat’s racist billboard ads from the 1990s, when Finland’s foreign population started to grow rapidly.

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Here’s a tabloid ad from 1992 where then MP Liisa Kulhia wants to put the Russian mafia and Somalis in their places.

The Finnish media reports near-constantly stories that reinforce intolerance of certain ethnic groups. But what can you expect if they don’t know better? If they don’t know better, any self-respecting reporter would get the facts right and rely as less as possible on his prejudices.

Anssi Honkanen’s and Renne Korppila’s Aamupoika radio program on NRJ, one of Finland’s most popular private radio stations, is one recent example of how hostility and intolerance of immigrants is promoted in Finland. The radio commentators claimed that there was a direct link to between crime rates/human trafficking and the Bulgarian and Romanian Roma who come to Finland to beg. 

I sent an email to the program challenging their urban tales but never got a reply from either Honkanen or Korppila never mind NRJ.

I wonder if NRJ paid any attention to an official police report in mid-July that Roma beggars aren’t victims of human trafficking or linked to organized crime?

As long as people like Honkanen and Korppila can get away with such racist statements, very little can change.

  1. Yossie

    Seriously!? What does the british policing and justice processes have to do with this case happening in Finland? If things are fucked up in UK, it doesnt mean they are fucked up in here.

    What you try to do is deflect the crime/blame from these suspects to finnish police and justice system, based on a case in UK! Is this not prejudice too, when you try to blame finnish police for something that has happent in UK?

    What is the fairness you seek? So that none of the crimes immigrants do should be made news?

    And what comes for roma beggars:

    “Poliisi ei ole sulkenut kerjäläisilmiössä ihmiskaupan mahdollisuutta pois”
    http://www.poliisi.fi/poliisi/helsinki/home.nsf/PFBD/EB9D567A0F81FAC6C2257BB10029DE3E?opendocument

  2. Enrique Tessieri

    Yossie, the issue is more complex than what our narrow-minded media wants to show. Please watch the 4 News report to help you understand the issues at hand.

    For one, how can you treat a refugee fleeing persecution as a “criminal” for finding refuge in another country?

  3. ohdake

    Yossie, the issue is more complex than what our narrow-minded media wants to show. Please watch the 4 News report to help you understand the issues at hand.

    For one, how can you treat a refugee fleeing persecution as a “criminal” for finding refuge in another country?

    Telling little white lies are you? There are no mentions that the Somali’s in question would have requested for asylum. The exception mentioned in the use of false travelling documentation is explicit and applies only to those seeking asylum with credible cause.

    Without a single mention that the Somalis in question would have requested an asylum their act was a violation of the law regarding the use of proper traveling documentation. So to put it together, there are no parallels to the case reported by the 4 News. So the issue is actually just as complex as the ‘narrow-minded media’ (‘nice’ and quite telling predisposition from you there, by the way) reported it to.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      -Telling little white lies are you?

      Nope. Giving you more facts about similar cases in England. Seriously, if a person comes from a country that has been at war with itself since the early 1990s, what would you expect? Are their case “normal?”

      The media, and probably you, jump the gun and assume the worst, which exposes the shoddy reporting of immigrants by the media.

  4. ohdake

    Nope. Giving you more facts about similar cases in England. Seriously, if a person comes from a country that has been at war with itself since the early 1990s, what would you expect? Are their case “normal?”

    The media, and probably you, jump the gun and assume the worst, which exposes the shoddy reporting of immigrants by the media.

    Except the cases were not similar, not by a long shot. In the ‘English case’ the person – ‘Jonathan’ – sought for an asylum/refugee status. That was not the case with the Somali’s at the Finnish border according to news.

    If they had invalid passports all they needed to do was to report that to border officials and apply for an asylum and it would all have been in order (assuming their application would not be rejected). However it does not appear that they would have done that. Holding on to illegal documentation does not exactly help the case.

  5. JusticeDemon

    We have had a fair number of cases in Finland where prosecutors and defending counsel were unaware of Article 31 of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. However, there is a crucial difference between English and Finnish judicial proceedings regarding the duty of a court to uphold the law. Courts in England and Wales tend to confine their examination to the arguments presented by counsel. Under this strongly adversarial approach, the court does not go out of its way to compensate for omissions or errors by counsel.

    The situation in Finland is different, and indeed it requires the court to rectify the omissions of counsel. It is not uncommon for an action to be upheld or dismissed for reasons that were not directly addressed by either party to a lawsuit, simply because the court has applied the law directly to the facts of the case.

    The Iltalehti story gives too little detail to form an opinion on this case. We do not know whether the individuals concerned were seeking protection at all. It is conceivable (even likely) that they hoped to transit through Finland to some other destination country of asylum. This is common enough when the traveller already has relatives living in the destination country. It is similarly conceivable that these individuals already enjoy asylum elsewhere, but lack the practical ability to travel for the purpose of visiting relatives. We simply do not know.

    • JusticeDemon

      Thank you for that reference.

      It would appear that a previous effort to reach Finland was frustrated about one week before this arrest. It’s obviously speculation, but I would surmise that the earlier attempt occurred at an international airport in Russia, and that the land route was chosen only after this failed.

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