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Interior Minister seeks to tackle social marginalisation after Imatra tragedy

Finland’s Interior Minister Paula Risikko says she wants the country’s government to take up the issue of social marginalisation again at its mid-term review, with the aim of making prevention a spearhead project.

Paula Risikko
Paula Risikko Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

Interior Minister Paula Risikko told the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle in a Radio 1 interview Wednesday morning that social marginalisation and exclusion pose one of the largest threats to Finland’s domestic security.

“Now that this matter is back in the spotlight, I plan to invite the key ministers to my office for a meeting. This should definitely be one of the government’s spearhead projects,” she said.

Investigation of the triple murder in Imatra is on-going, but at this stage it seems clear that the killer had a history of social exclusion and mental issues.

Risikko said that marginalisation has been discussed before in her ministerial term, but the current situation is far from getting better. She earlier served as Finland’s Minister for Social Affairs and Health.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can prevent social exclusion. We have enacted a youth guarantee and a social guarantee, but these are targeted at people with a study place or a job. We should start focusing on the people that are unable to achieve these things,” she said.

Risikko said she hopes the government will take concrete steps towards opposing exclusion in its mid-term review, as part of the country’s preparations for the Finnish centennial.

The centre-right government of which Risikko is a part is set to meet and outline its goals and activities for the rest of its term in April 2017.

Police sizing up hate speech

Alongside official Independence Day festivities, several right-wing groups gathered to demonstrate in Helsinki.

Risikko says that Finland’s strong freedom of assembly laws protect the right of groups that identify themselves as national socialists to gather. As the neo-Nazis moved through the city, they shouted things like “Long live national socialism!”

“There’s freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, but some of the things they were yelling crossed a line,” the minister said on the radio Wednesday.

She reported that Finland's National Police Board is currently assessing how the hate speech issue should be regulated and punished in the future.

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