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Justice Minister signifies support for tougher sex crime penalties

Anna-Maja Henriksson says court sentences for sexual offenses involving minors should in particular become more severe.

Anna-Maja Henriksson
Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson is also chair of the Swedish People's Party. Image: Nathalie Lindvall

Minister for Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson has indicated that Finland's government is currently considering tougher punishments for perpetrators of sex crimes.

"My view is that there could certainly be some kind of stricter penalty scale in use, especially for sexual offenses against children," she said in a Saturday morning appearance on Yle's Ykkösaamu talk show.

Henriksson explained that the five-party government coalition is reviewing current legislation on the sex crimes, with a mind to make changes.

She says the role of the internet in such crimes will also be examined more closely as part of the legal reform process.

"The fact that some adults commit such crimes against minors via the internet does not make the crime any less pressing. It is disgusting and very, very serious," the minister said.

Henriksson was not able to specify what kind of legal changes would be required to address online offenses, but promised that the working group appointed to assess changes to Finland's criminal code will "consider everything" before it reaches any conclusions.

Finland may follow in Sweden's "explicit consent" footsteps

During the interview, Henriksson also said that Finland's laws on rape must be changed. She said that the coalition discussed plans to pass new legislation in this area already at the start of their four-year governmental term.

"We have decided within the government to implement a change to the law. If there is a lack of consent, then it should be considered rape. […] No should mean no," she said.

The justice minister added that Finland's working group would examine the Swedish model carefully in its appraisal of the situation.

Sweden passed a new law in 2018 that criminalizes sex without consent as rape, even when there are no threats, coercion or violence involved. England, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Iceland and Germany have similar laws.

The minimum penalty for aggravated rape and rape of a child was also increased in Sweden from four to five years' imprisonment.

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