President Sauli Niinistö has tweeted a condemnation of personal attacks targeting public officials. In a tweet posted on Thursday, the president wrote, "This is a serious matter. It must not be that people who serve and protect others are harassed."
Niinistö's remarks were in response to a tweet by the head of the Foreign Ministry’s Unit for Communications on Europe and Neighbouring Areas, Ville Cantell, who referenced an Yle report about the harassment of public officials.
Yle's A-studio TV reporters surveyed various ministry and state agency officials about harassment. They found that police, prosecutors and judges are especially prone to being targets of harassment. In addition, immigration officials as well as wildlife officials dealing with predators are high on the list.
Among the belittling or threatening actions targeting many civil servants are hate messages, unfounded rumours and the spread of information that violates their privacy.
Niinistö has taken up the issue in more general terms in the past. The theme of this year's Independence Day Gala was "Knowledge and Social Discussion". In that context, the president noted that we now have more information than ever available, but that development has also brought half-truths and lies into social debate.
"And if we go in that direction, this will become a hard place to live for everyone. Perhaps what is most worrying is the insulting manner of discussion, of attacking individuals. It is quite a painful practice for the target," Niinistö said in late November.