Council of Europe concerned about ethnic profiling by police in Finland

by , under Enrique

Is it a surprise that the Council of Europe’s anti-racism body expressed concern in a report that Finnish police ask people’s ID based on ethnic appearance? No need to get an official answer to find out because ethnic profiling doesn’t happen in Finland. Why not ask immigrants and visible minorities instead if you went a candid answer?

The Council of Europe anti-racism body, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), published its fourth report Tuesday where it expressed concern over ethnic profiling by the police in Finland, reports YLE in English.

The ECRI report said that the police in Finland have the right to question foreign-looking people in places where they are believed to be causing problems.

Kuvankaappaus 2013-7-9 kello 15.42.05

“There is one [regulation] which increases the risk of racial profiling by the police, so this is the police singling out people based simply on the basis of their visible appearance,” Council of Europe communications officer Andrew Cutting told Yle. “Another issue [the report] raises is that foreigners can be detained whilst their identity can be ascertained in certain situations, and that this too is discriminatory.”

Ethnic profiling is part of the the wider problem of institutional racism in this country.

The fact that the police and Christian Democrat interior minister, Päivi Räsänen, deny any wrongdoing concerning ethnic profiling is highly revealing in itself. Such denials suggest that the contrary does take place and that it is a much wider problem than the authorities want to admit.

The police and the interior minister are, however, adamant: No ethnic profiling goes on in Finland by the police.

But is this the case?

The Ombudsman for Minorities has been in negotiations with the police to have in force this year new anti-ethnic profiling guidelines.

Rainer Hiltunen, the Minority Ombudsman’s head of office, told Migrant Tales last year that he receives calls from foreigners who say they have been repeatedly questioned in the street by police. Some of those stopped are naturalized Finns and visible minorities.

Even if the police and Räsänen claim that foreign-looking people aren’t stopped by the police,  Migrant Tales  understands that the problem is far more common than officials want to admit.

It is, however, a good matter that European organizations like the ECRI are looking into the matter.

Read full ECRI report here.




  1. Jssk

    -Another issue [the report] raises is that foreigners can be detained whilst their identity can be ascertained in certain situations

    This is the case for a native finn aswell, so i dont see how it is discriminatory.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      One thing that I don’t understand is how some Finns always claim that immigrants and visible minorities have it better than they. Not so. Their situation is totally different from some immigrant groups. What do you think it does to a person if you feel near-constant hostility and that you have to always prove yourself to someone whom you cannot compete against because you aren’t white? That really wears you down.

  2. Jssk

    Sure, in some cases there is ethnic profiling, it does exist but i dont think that out problem with it is as severe as it is in, say USA for example. Still in the majority of cases where a persons ID is checked, he is being suspected of a crime because there is a good reason for that.