Some 22 activists belonging to the Finnish branch of Extinction Rebellion (Finnish name Elokapina) have been ordered to pay fines for disobeying police orders during a demonstration that took place in the capital last summer.
The activists blocked a busy street in downtown Helsinki, saying they wanted to push the government to declare a climate and ecological emergency and to bring forward Finland's carbon neutrality target from 2035 to 2025.
While the activists argued that their actions were justifiable due to the urgency of the climate crisis, the Helsinki District Court ruled that both the blocking of Mannerheimintie and the group's refusal to leave were unlawful.
Police said that protesters had not requested a permit for the demonstration of 20 June nor named any organisers.
Constitutional law states that everyone has the right to assemble without official permission. While demonstrations can be held on a public street, any disturbance caused should not be unreasonable, according to the district court.
According to the law, the police had the power to assess the harm caused by the demonstration to traffic. The police order to transfer the demonstration to Unioninkatu meant that returning to Mannerheimintie was not allowed.
The activists have said they are considering appealing the decision.
"If we cannot trust the police to safeguard our fundamental right to demonstrate when it is done in a way that is proportionate to the threat of the environmental crisis and the size of change it requires, how can democracy and future generations have any hope?" Elokapina representative Liina Aalto-Setälä wrote in the group's press release.