Powers of the Finnish Border Guard to intervene in hybrid threats to be strengthened
The Government plans to strengthen the powers of the Finnish Border Guard to quickly and effectively intervene in hybrid threats. Better preparedness for hybrid threats would improve the Finnish Border Guard's crisis resilience and capacity to manage large-scale incidents. On 25 January, the Government submitted a proposal for necessary legislative amendments to Parliament. The amendments are scheduled to enter into force as soon as possible.
Hybrid threats refer to various intentional means of putting the state subjected to such threats under pressure, causing damage and uncertainty to it and destabilising it. Such means may include influencing through information, attacks against information networks, terrorist or criminal activities, sabotage of critical infrastructure, and military operations.
In particular, the amendments seek to strengthen the powers of border guards in the maintenance of public order and security at border crossing points, in the premises of the Finnish Border Guard and in areas under the control of the Finnish Border Guard at times when the police service is unavailable. The powers of the Finnish Border Guard would be the same as those of the police under corresponding situations.
The amendments would clarify the options available to the Finnish Border Guard to give and receive executive assistance from other authorities. The Finnish Border Guard would be authorised to provide the police with armed military assistance in counter-terrorism activities not only in Finnish territorial waters but also at border crossing points and in areas close to the border. Executive assistance provided by the Finnish Defense Forces to the Finnish Border Guard could also include measures using force under the direction of a competent border guard.
Provisions on the powers of conscripts when used in support of the Finnish Border Guard would be added to the Border Guard Act. The proposal states that should a need arise in Finland’s security environment, conscripts could temporarily take people's personal identifying characteristics, direct traffic and carry out security checks, for example. Conscripts would not be deployed to dangerous duties.
According to the proposal, border guards would have the right to intervene in the flying of unmanned aircraft and drones by using force, if necessary. Such powers are necessary to safeguard the operations of sea rescue helicopters, for example.
Provisions on the temporary suspension or restriction of waterborne traffic would be added to the Border Guard Act. Moreover, the right of the Finnish Border Guard to take temporary possession of property, to revoke border zone permits and to impose restrictions and prohibitions on movement would be extended.
The obligations of a transport operator regarding traffic crossing external borders would also be extended to cover internal borders, if border control was to be temporarily reintroduced at internal borders. In practice, this would entail the checking of travel documents, the submission of lists of passengers and the obligation to transport individuals out of the country should they be refused entry into Finland.
Ari-Pekka Koivisto, Senior Ministerial Adviser , tel. +358 295 421 601, firstname.lastname@example.org