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Caretaker government can appoint Intelligence Ombudsman, justice chancellor says

Laws that will enhance the surveillance capabilities of military and civil intelligence agencies were approved by lawmakers on Monday.

Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

Finland's Chancellor of Justice, Tuomas Pöysti, said on Tuesday that the caretaker government currently running the country can appoint the new post of Intelligence Ombudsman.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä unexpectedly dissolved his government last Friday, but at the request of the president, his coalition will continue as a caretaker government until 14 April, when parliamentary elections are held.

In this role, ministers will continue to handle the day-to-day matters of running the state, but with a diminished mandate.

The justice ministry's administrative director, Olli Muttilainen, said last week if the caretaker government cannot carry out the appointment, it will likely fall on the next government to do it, saying at the time it would likely be a "relatively long delay." Government formation talks typically take a couple of months.

However, following Pöysti's approval of the caretaker government making the appointment, it is expected the post will be filled during March.

Lawmakers approved on Monday two bills which will enhance the surveillance capabilities of military and civil intelligence agencies.

Role of the Intelligence Ombudsman

Finland's first intelligence ombudsman will be named sometime this month, according to the justice ministry. Applicants to be interviewed for the post have been selected.

The new position will be attached to the office of the data protection ombudsman, but independent and autonomous.

The intelligence ombudsman will be responsible for monitoring the activities of intelligence and surveillance agencies and to protect basic human rights.

Last week parliament's constitutional law committee recommended Kimmo Hakonen, general secretary of the Chancellor of Justice's office management, for the new post.

In addition to the new ombudsman's post, an intelligence supervisory committee consisting of 11 members is also being set up by the caretaker cabinet.