Powers of the Finnish Border Guard to intervene in hybrid threats to be strengthened

Ministry of the Interior 10.1.2019 14.38 | Published in English on 14.1.2019 at 11.36
Press release 1/2019

The Government will strengthen the powers of the Finnish Border Guard to quickly and effectively intervene in hybrid threats. Better preparedness for hybrid threats will improve the Border Guard's crisis resilience and capacity to manage large-scale incidents. The Government submitted the amendments to the Border Guard Act, the Aliens Act and certain related acts for approval on 10 January. The President of the Republic is to approve the amendments on 11 January. The amendments will enter into force on 1 April 2019.

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 will strengthen the powers of border guards in the maintenance of public order and security at border crossing points, in the premises of the Border Guard and in areas under the control of the Border Guard at times when the police service is unavailable. The powers of the Border Guard will be the same as those of the police under corresponding situations.

The amendments will clarify the options available to the Border Guard to give and receive executive assistance from other authorities. The Border Guard will 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 Defence Forces to the Border Guard can also include use of force under the direction of a competent border guard.

Provisions on the powers of conscripts when used in support of the Border Guard will be added to the Border Guard Act. Should a need arise in Finland’s security environment, conscripts can temporarily take people's personal identifying characteristics, direct traffic and carry out security checks, for example. Conscripts will not however be deployed to dangerous duties.

Border guards will have the right to intervene in the flying of unmanned aircraft and drones by using force or technical means, 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 will be added to the Border Guard Act. Moreover, the right of the Border Guard to take temporary possession of property, to revoke border zone permits and to impose restrictions and prohibitions on movement will be extended.

The obligations of a carrier regarding traffic crossing external borders will also be extended to cover the internal borders of the Schengen countries, if border control was to be temporarily reintroduced at the internal borders. In practice, this will 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. A financial penalty may be imposed on carriers for failure to comply with the obligations.

Inquiries:
Ari-Pekka Koivisto, Chief of Division, tel. +358 295 421 601, [email protected]
Anne Ihanus, Senior Adviser for Legislative Affairs, tel. +358 295 421 605, [email protected]