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Ombudsman Raps Police Conduct in Smash ASEM Protests

The Finnish Ombudsman has found some police officers guilty of unlawful conduct during last year's Smash ASEM protest demonstrations.

Deputy Ombudsman Jukka Lindstedt reprimanded a police sergeant and a Helsinki police station for wrongful arrest. Those wrongfully held were also allegedly denied fair treatment. Lindstedt said the issue was not the glaring nature of the offences, but he noted that the constitution requires that all official actions should conform to the letter of the law. He was particularly scathing in his criticism of the act of chaining detainees to the frame of a moving bus.

The Ombudsman found that the act of breaking up the demonstrations was lawful, but the large number of detentions and their extended length were problematic. The Deputy Ombudsman questioned whether it was necessary to deprive so many of their individual rights.

The Asian and European Countries Summit (ASEM) took place on September 9th 2006. The Smash ASEM countermovement was organised to protest the event. The Ombudsman has received more than 60 complaints about police conduct during the incident.

Charges were brought against 83 demonstrators for acts such as pelting the police with bottles, threatening police officers and violent resistance of the police. Charges were originally laid against 86 of the protestors, but were later dropped against Member of Parliament Paavo Arhinmäki and two others.


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