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Finland to review international conventions in light of alleged child sex crimes

Cabinet ministers also concluded that authorities needed to place greater emphasis on the deportation of rejected asylum seekers from Iraq.

Juha Sipilä ja Kai Mykkänen.
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen (left). Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Finland’s Foreign Ministry plans to conduct a review of international agreements to which the country is a signatory to determine whether or not they can be changed to better manage immigration policy.

The decision followed a cabinet meeting by the Juha Sipilä administration convened to address alleged child sexual abuse cases in Oulu, northern Finland.

Government ministers also reviewed the situation with respect to individuals whose asylum applications had been rejected by Finnish authorities. The meeting concluded that authorities need to place greater emphasis on the deportation of rejected asylum seekers from Iraq.

Finland also plans to take up the issue of rejected asylum seekers with the EU Commission and intends to raise the matter with other countries in the same position.

More resources for police

Police commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen provided ministers with an update in investigations into the reported cases of child sexual abuse in Oulu and Helsinki.

The government concluded that police need to place greater emphasis on their online operations.

"It was clear that more police resources are needed, especially for the internet. The background to many of these cases is online grooming and police need more resources for that, even if they are provided at the beginning of this year," Prime Minister Juha Sipilä said in Parliament on Friday.

The government noted that cases of child sex abuse linked to the internet as prevalent and very few of them come to the attention of police.

Meeting participants decided to set up a tripartite working group involving school, youth outreach and social workers to come up with preventive measures.

In addition, an internal security working group lead by Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen has been charged with developing a package of measures by mid-February.

"It is certainly worrying that in terms of the entire country, the number of sexual offences under investigation has increased during the past year. Especially here in the Helsinki region, that growth has been significant. Of course, it can be linked to a lower threshold for reporting [the offences]," the minister said in parliament.

Tighter penalties for offenders

In a previous meeting on Tuesday, the government had promised additional funding to beef up police resources to combat offences committed against children.

At the time parliamentary groups agreed to fast-track three pieces of legislation to deal with sexual offences against children.

The first would impose harsher sentences for aggravated child sex crimes, another would allow police broader access to personal data, while a third would amend laws so that naturalised citizens convicted of sex offences would lose their citizenship.

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