After targeting migrants and asylum seekers with tougher laws, Sipilä’s government now sets its eyes on Roma panhandlers

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Should we be surprised after the government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä tightened immigration policy it is now targeting the Romany minority? If the government has its way, Finland will criminalize panhandling. 

Sipiläs government, which comprises of the National Coalition Party (NCP) and anti-immigration populist Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, is one of the most anti-immigration and anti-cultural diversity governments in a long time.

The first question that such a draft law that would criminalize panhandling raises is why it is needed in the first place? Are Roma panhandlers from countries like Romania and Bulgaria such a problem?

PS MP Raimo Lehto believes so.

“Panhandling should be forbidden because it annoys and bothers Finnish citizens,” he said, “and they tell us that they should be taken off the street because they frighten certain people.”

Näyttökuva 2016-8-24 kello 0.14.18
Read and watch the full interview (in Finnish) here.

The new law, which specifically targets Roma from countries like Romania and Bulgaria, comes after the government passed laws that did away with residence permits under humanitarian grounds, tightened family reunification requirements and shortening appeal times for asylum seekers.

Even if the PS, which has seen its poll standing plummet recently, wants to take credit for the tightening of immigration policy, analysts believe that the real mastermind behind such tightening is the NCP.

Finland’s stance towards asylum seekers and migrants has changed. We first saw Prime Minister Sipilä offering his home to asylum seekers in September to only shut the door in their faces a few months later.

In many respects, but in a different context, the present government’s draconian policies towards migrants and asylum seekers give us a whiff of the 1970s and early 1980s, when the aliens’ office was run by Eila Kännö.

The arbitrary and tough line that of the aliens’ office had back then turned against them and were questioned by the media and general public.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”