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Local Leaders to Get Anti-Xenophobia Training

The Ministry of Justice is launching a programme to train local government leaders on how to handle racist speech. The True Finns, who have been accused of attracting supporters with anti-foreigner views, say Finland needs to be realistic about its immigration problem.

Minister of Justice Tuija Brax says her ministry has been planning the anti-xenophobia training for some time. She says the programme doesn't necessary apply to local officials from the True Finns party, and adds xenophobia has been exhibited by members of other parties as well.

The True Finns scored a big win in Sunday's local elections. In several municipalities in Ostrobothnia, where few immigrants live, the party is now in the top three.

Unto Männistö, a newly elected True Finns councillor from Kauhajoki, says he believes those elected are civilised people who will stick to the issues.

True Finns Chair Timo Soini agrees. He says newly elected councillors are sensible, educated individuals. He adds Finland already has laws to punish those who incite hate against a particular ethnic or racial group. However, he says Finland must be realistic about its immigration problems.

For now, the Justice Minister says xenophobia is a real problem in Finland and local leaders will be trained to stop any slanderous speech that may occur during council meetings.

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