The issue of private citizen patrols has divided opinions, including those of the coalition government.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Timo Soini says that people have a right to join private citizen patrols but that racism and violence should not be tolerated. The street patrols – often organised by right-wing groups – are reported to be taking place in several towns and cities across Finland. Soini, leader of the populist Finns Party, told Yle’s A-Studio programme on Tuesday night that racism and violence by street patrols is unthinkable and have no place in a democratic country.
On Wednesday afternoon Finance Minister Alexander Stubb (National Coalition Party) said that the coalition government will discuss the possibility of making the street patrols illegal.
”All racist street patrols should be condemned and prohibited. We have officials who oversee that hate speech is not acceptable in this country. Interior Minister Petteri Orpo has been unambiguously clear on this matter,” said Stubb.
The government will meet to discuss the legal issues regarding the issue. However, making the patrols illegal may come up against the law as freedom of expression and assembly are fundamental rights in Finland.
“We will discuss this and see where the legal interface is,” said Stubb
Interior Minister Petteri Orpo (National Coalition Party) and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre Party) have both stated that street patrols are not needed. Justice and Employment Minister Jari Lindström (Finns Party) has said that street patrols are not a problem so long as they don’t break the law.
Stubb repeated the messages of the Interior Minister and the Prime Minister: Ensuring citizen safety is the responsibility of the police (not private citizens), and police resources need to be secured.