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PM's office seals lockdown preparation emails

The Chancellor of Justice has already published the emails he sent when lockdown legislation was prepared.

Tuomas Pöysti.
Chancellor of Justice Tuomas Pöysti helped the government draft failed lockdown legislation. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

The Prime Minister's office has refused to hand over emails sent to Chancellor of Justice Tuomas Pöysti when the government prepared flawed and ultimately failed legislation implementing a strict lockdown earlier this year.

Finnish news agency STT had requested the emails, and Pöysti had already published emails he had sent to Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) and her advisors during this period.

The communications relate to a proposed lockdown law that was eventually criticised by parliament's Constitutional Law Committee as poorly drafted, and therefore did not proceed onto the statute books.

Only one side of the conversation is public, however, after the PM's office denied the freedom of information request.

Legal experts interviewed by STT criticised the decision, as the guiding principle of transparency in Finnish law means that in principle all documents related to decision-making in government should be made available.

Olli Mäenpää, emeritus professor of administrative law, said that only banal, technical communications like those relating to arranging a coffee date should be withheld.

"I would have thought that when you are preparing restrictions on movement, which affect people's basic rights in a very concrete way, they cannot be mostly technical at least in their content," said Mäenpää.

The PM's office has previously declined to reveal documents relating to Covid pandemic handling.

Pöysti's role in helping the government draft the lockdown legislation was subject to public debate after the bill failed in parliament, and in the aftermath he announced he would avoid participating in such preparations in future.

The PM's office has previously agreed to release some emails, including those between Marin and a recently retired civil servant in which Marin had criticised her coalition partners and local and regional leaders for not doing enough to fight the pandemic.

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