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HS: Chancellor of Justice slams gov’t for “major constitutional problems” in drafted bills

Finland’s leading newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reports that the Chancellor of Justice, Jarkko Jonkka, has accused the current centre-right government of subverting constitutional law in many of its planned law changes.

Oikeuskansleri Jaakko Jonkka.
Finland's Chancellor of Justice Jarkko Jonkka. Image: Yle

Finland’s Chancellor of Justice, Jarkko Jonkka has criticized the manner in which Juha Sipilä’s government drafts statutes. The interview was published Sunday in the most widely-read daily, Helsingin Sanomat.

Along with the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Chancellor of Justice in Finland is the supreme guardian of the law in the country. The paper writes that Jonkka says government presentations are occasionally plagued by major constitutional compliance problems.

Jonkka said in the interview that a previous decision to limit the number of ministries has had the regrettable knock-on effect of weakening the process for drafting bills. He says the most worrisome aspect of this development is the excuses used for flouting constitutional compliance issues. 

“I find it completely unacceptable that politicians try to explain away overriding good law drafting principles by saying that they were rushed or under political pressure,” he said. 

The lawyer provides an example: the recent case of the government proposing that unemployed people who have been granted asylum in Finland could be paid a lower unemployment compensation that the rest of the population. The proposal was abandoned when it was proven to be in direct defiance of Finland’s constitutional right to equal treatment under the law.

The sitting government contains no lawyers, and a former office director in the Ministry of Justice pointed this fact out in an Yle interview a year ago. Tiina Astola said the government would benefit from a legally trained individual to prevent wasted time and contradictions.

The same problem has plagued earlier governments in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat writes.

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