By Enrique Tessieri
Migrant Tales reported since the end of January some gruesome violent crimes against Muslims in Finland with the most recent one happening Wednesday. Two of these led directly to the violent deaths of a Somali and Moroccan native, both Finnish citizens. None of these were hate crimes, according to the police.
What is a hate crime and why do some visible immigrants disagree flatly with the police’s conclusions?
A Police College of Finland report states the following: “The traditional definition of hate crime also entails the notion that there is no prior relationship between the offender and the victim. Hate motivation is easier to understand in connection with crimes committed by extremist groups; i.e. in instances where the suspect and victim do not know each other and the suspect’s agenda is to harm the victim on the basis of his or her membership of a specific [ethnic]group.”
And continues: “This traditional definition, however, is not suitable for describing all crimes committed against minorities that include prejudice against a group. Crimes or harassment can also occur between people who already know one another, and such acts are not always based on one particular hate motivation.”
One matter that sheds a dubious light on the Finnish police is their claim that hate crimes fell by 15% to 860 cases in 2010 compared with the previous year.
While we don’t have the competence nor the resources like the police to investigate a hate crime, we are members of the community that the police serves.
Even so, the ever-growing discrepancies between some immigrant and visible minority groups versus the police show a distressing trend: lack of credibility. This can never be a good matter for the police never mind the immigrant community because the effectiveness of the police service hinges on trust.
Trust in the police service can be hindered by many factors. One of these can be the immigrant, who may came from a country where the police are more feared than criminals. In light of this fact the police in Finland must do more work to win over the trust of these groups.
A recent statement by a policeman investigating the death of the adolescent in Espoo show that credibility between the police and the Somali community are significant to say the least.
Instead of reassuring the Somali community that Finland’s streets are safe and that the police are out there to protect them, the police investigator blamed the Somalis for planting racial hatred by spreading false rumors about the murder, according to YLE.
Alan Bruce wrote recently (26.2.2012) on Migrant Tales the following: ” For far too long many police services have been reactive and cut off from the needs of all they are supposed to serve – through inertia, sloppy standards, poor levels of training or [as in the stated findings of the Macpherson Commission in London] sheer ‘institutional racism.’”
Bruce continued: ” Tackling these problems by a radical program of training, policy and pro-active engagement with [and support for] immigrant communities, ethnic minorities, migrants, women and other minorities is not just protecting the rights of citizens [and non-citizens] but it is also about creating a professional police service that sets standards and proclaims values.”
The tragic deaths and attacks that we have witnessed so far this year should be a wakeup call. In the present political climate in Finland, matters will unfortunately get worse before they improve.
The police must stop treating crimes against immigrants as routine matters.