Measures preventing violent extremism and radicalisation proceed
According to the annual report, work on preventing violent extremism and radicalisation has proceeded well despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The national cooperation group on the prevention of violent radicalisation and extremism annually prepares a report on the progress of the action plan on preventing violent radicalisation and extremism. The report provides information on how the work has proceeded and how the goals defined in the action plan have been achieved in Finland during 2020.
The report discusses in more detail the situation with violent extremism and radicalisation at the local level as well as the extent to which measures related to recruitment efforts by different radicalised extremists groups have been identified and what has been done to prevent the participation of young people, for example, in extremist action. The report also looks at promoting the safety of the premises of religious communities.
”Measures related to preventing violent extremism and radicalisation have been examined from the point of view of different authorities, such as the police, educational services, social services and health care as well as prisons. The report also contains information on how the various organisations have participated in the activities,” says Tarja Mankkinen, Ministry of the Interior, Chair of the working group.
Preventive measures have proceeded well despite exceptional circumstances
A clear finding in the report is that preventive measures have proceeded well in spite of exceptional circumstances.
”Last year the coronavirus pandemic affected all activities of the authorities and organisations. In spite of that, measures decided in the action plan could be implemented fairly well and extensively,” Mankkinen says.
The exceptional year nevertheless showed in the fact, for example, that cooperation related to preventive measures could not be pursued face-to-face as efficiently as before.
”Exceptional times have challenged the authorities and various actors to consider alternatives ways of carrying out preventive measures. For example, more active use has been made of digital channels in information exchange and training, and different types of materials have also been prepared digitally last year,”Mankkinen says.
Finland is the only country in Europe that draws up an annual report
The action plan for preventing violent radicalisation and extremism was approved with the Government’s decision in principle in December 2019. The action plan contains national goals and cross-administrative preventive measures for 2019-2023. It is required in the decision in principle that the implementation and results of the action plan are reported annually.
Several European countries have their own action plans for preventing violent extremism and radicalisation, and close cooperation is pursued within the EU. Finland is so far the only country that prepares a public report about the results and implementation.
”We should speak openly about violent extremism and radicalisation just as we talk about different types of criminal phenomena and problems in general in order to make different risks visible and increase people’s awareness about the topic. By increasing people’s awareness and knowledge, it is possible to prevent them from supporting violent extremist movements, their actions and ideologies,” Mankkinen says.
The action plan directs preventive measures nationally and locally and was prepared with the authorities, organisations and associations. Researchers and religious communities are also involved in its implementation.
In Finland, violent radicalisation and extremism have been prevented systematically through cooperation between different authorities, organisations and other actors since 2012. The results of the work are regularly reported to parties involved, decision-makers and the general public by preparing an annual report that is publicly available.