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Minister of Justice condemns derogatory remarks made by judges

An internal investigation into the Helsinki Court of Appeal suggests that judges have spoken disparagingly about sexual offences and made racist comments during recesses and meetings outside of the court room.

Oikeusministeri Anna-Maja Henriksson. Image: Yle

Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson spoke out against the conduct of Helsinki Court of Appeal judges, who allegedly used racist language and spoke dismissively about sexual offences during recesses and in meetings outside of the courtroom.

The MTV3 channel initially reported on the story based on a report produced by an internal investigation of the judicial system into the behaviour of Helsinki Court of Appeal judges.

In addition to referring to people using racial slurs, sexual offences were reportedly discussed in a dismissive tone.

Minister Henriksson told Yle News in an interview on Friday that she felt this was an extremely serious matter.

“Everyone understands that victims are in a very vulnerable position," said Henriksson. "This type of behaviour is unacceptable and does not create confidence in the judicial system. This kind of language will not be tolerated, even behind closed doors."

Henriksson said that each judge should realise that they have been selected for a very important task, which requires integrity and appropriate behaviour - in and out of the courtroom.

"Now is the time to address and correct this issue. We cannot afford to lose people's confidence in the court system," she said.

Mikko Könkkölä, president of the Helsinki Court of Appeal, said that the language outside the courtroom had not affected the administration of justice.

According to Henriksson, the report has recommendations for action to remedy the situation.

"The Court of Appeal's task now is to take the recommendations forward and resolve any grievances," she said.