Minister of the Interior Ohisalo on the police report: open debate should continue
At the request of the Ministry of the Interior, the National Police Board asked the Helsinki Police Department for a report concerning police actions during the demonstration on 3 October. The National Police Board has now submitted the report and its own statement to the Ministry of the Interior.
“We have now received the report and we will look into the matter carefully. The report is public and we can engage in free and frank discussion,” says Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo.
“I would like to stress that, as a minister, it is not my duty to assess the legality of police actions, it is that of the authorities responsible for the oversight of legality. A report of an offence concerning the use of force by the police during the demonstration has been submitted to the Prosecutor General and she has begun a preliminary investigation into the matter. A number of complaints relating to the demonstration have also been filed with the Parliamentary Ombudsman,” says Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo.
“In its statement, the National Police Board considers it important that the case is assessed by external parties and that, on the basis of this assessment, the actions of the police can be further developed if necessary. Police actions need to be as open as possible in order to maintain a high level of trust in the authorities,” says Minister Ohisalo.
According to Minister Ohisalo, the lively exchange of views in the media over the weekend showed that the freedom of assembly is an important value in our society. Similarly, the way the police operate is significant. Trust in the police is one of the cornerstones of a safe and well-functioning society.
“The Finnish police are among the best in the world. Finns have strong confidence in the high level of professional skills of our police, and this sets the bar high, as it should in an open democracy and a state governed by the rule of law. Every encounter with the authorities is important in building this trust,” says Minister Ohisalo.
“I think it is important that the use of force by the police is reported more openly and that this information is also available for public debate. Discussion should be based on information, regardless of the subject,” Ohisalo says.
“There must, however, always be weighty grounds for the use of force and, if necessary, the instructions on the use of force should be specified. Force should only be used as a last resort.
According to Minister Ohisalo, open and timely communication by the police can also make a big difference in maintaining trust. The police have an important role to play in public debate.
“It is important not to create an ‘information void’. The authorities should also participate actively in public debate, especially when their activities are strongly questioned. In this way, the authorities can tell about the premises and objectives of their actions,” Ohisalo stresses.
Sameli Sivonen, Special Adviser, tel. +358 50 406 6855 (requests for interviews with Minister Ohisalo)