Finland should wake up to its hate speech, hate crime and racism problem

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Green League MP Iris Suomela raised an essential question in parliament on Wednesday about rape. She said that there are “hundreds of thousands” rape cases in Finland of which 50,000 are reported annually to Victim Support Finland (RIKU).

“The end result of all this is that the police record about 1,200 [rape] cases [annually] of which around 200 get sentenced,” she said.

It is a very good matter that the government is not only changing sexual abuse laws, which include consent but aims to essentially improve how the police handle such cases.

One question that arises when looking at Finland’s present sexual abuse laws is if hate crime and hate speech are also underreported in the same way. If Suomela speaks of annually of about 50,000 rape cases that are reported to RIKU, what kind of ballpark figures are we looking at for hate speech and hate crime?

According to the latest figures, hate crimes in Finland during 2017 rose by 7.97% to 1,165 cases compared with 1,079 the previous year, according to the Finnish Police University College

The report states that only 21% of harassment and hate-speech cases in 2016 were not reported by the victims, according to the ministry of justice. If this is the case, we are talking about thousands, possibly tens of thousands of cases annually.

Ethnic agitation cases that were taken to court in 2018. Even if such cases rose by 138.5% last year to 31, it is still a tiny amount. Source: Justice Ministry.

Even if Finland has very good hate speech laws and laws that promote social equality, the question these above figures bring up is what MP Suomela raised: Few victims report such crimes to the police. We need a change in culture and to listen to the victim.

The latter claim is supported by some of the conclusions of a recent European Network Against Racism (ENAR) shadow report. “Most EU Member States [like Finland in the report] have hate crime laws, as well as policies and guidance in place to respond to racist crime, but they are not enforced because of a context of deeply rooted institutional racism within law enforcement authorities,” ENAR said.

See shadow report here.

Apart from institutional racism issues, another practical matter we should ask if there are enough police monitoring hate speech and hate crime in Finland and enforcing the law vigorously.

The Finnish police have at the most 10 Internet police officers who monitor hate speech, reports Yle, citing police inspector Måns Enqvist of the National Board of Police of Finland.

Ten is too few in light of the ever-growing hate speech and hate crime problem in Finland.

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