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Ombudsman: Anti-Racism Laws Not Used Effectively

Criminal statutes designed to clamp down on racism are not being used very effectively, says the state Ombudsman for Minorities.

Mikko Puumalainen told YLE Radio News that police, prosecutors, and judges need more training in order to make full use of anti-racism laws.

Racist crimes include discrimination based on nationality or cultural heritage, and inciting violence against these groups. In addition, any crime can carry a harsher punishment if it is proven to have a racist element. However, confusion arises in the application of this rule.

"This rule is fairly new, and perhaps people don't really know how to apply it in criminal investigations," Puumala says. "It shouldn't be very difficult to appy, because the purpose of an investigation is to determine the suspect's motive, and figuring out if there's a racist motive is part of this."

Hundreds of racially-motivated crimes are reported to police each year, but only several dozen ever make it to court.

There are more than 100,000 people with foreign backgrounds in Finland.

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