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Citizens' initiative on deporting foreign sex offenders unlikely to reach lawmakers

More than 79,000 Finns signed the initiative, far surpassing the minimum. But due to time constraints, there's little hope MPs will consider the proposal.

Poliisiauto Oulussa.
Police van in Oulu. Image: Timo Heikkala / Lehtikuva

A citizens' initiative advocating that foreigners who are convicted of sex crimes should lose their residence permits and face deportation had received nearly 80,000 signatures by Monday afternoon, making it eligible to head to lawmakers.

However, the initiative has little hope of being considered by MPs, because the current government - which is in its final few months - will not have adequate time to review it.

Additionally, according to rules regarding such documents, citizens' initiatives created during earlier administrations cannot be presented to later ones. But lawmakers are already talking about the matter.

Alleged sex crimes

The topic of foreigners committing sex crimes has been a major issue in Finland for the past couple of months, after police in the western city of Oulu reported a series of alleged sexual assaults of children by foreign men at the end of last November.

Soon after those initial reports surfaced, on 6 December, Independence Day, Tampere resident Saila Al-Jewari started a citizens' initiative urging parliament to create legislation that would strip foreigners convicted of sex crimes of their residence permits, followed by deportation.

The initiative states that laws should be changed so that foreigners convicted of sex crimes should immediately be taken into police custody.

The initiative also proposes that foreign sex crime convicts should never be permitted to apply for Finnish citizenship, regardless of the country in which the crimes were committed.

Pols already talking about issue

Regardless of whether this specific citizens' initiative is ever presented to parliament, several politicians in Finland - including Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen - are already calling for harsher penalties for foreigners convicted of sex crimes.

"If someone violates one of our basic values, the physical integrity of another individual, I consider that a national threat," Mykkänen said on Yle's Ykkösaamu morning programme on Saturday. The minister also repeated his opinion that dual citizens who are found guilty of aggravated sexual assault should be summarily stripped of their Finnish citizenship.

Last week Prime Minister Juha Sipilä also expressed his grief and "disgust" over new reports of alleged sex crimes in Oulu.

Last week the chair of the Blue Reform party, Sampo Terho, said that his party promotes "harsher punishments, more controlled immigration, speedy forced deportations and proper resources for police."

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