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Prosecutor to probe rap artist's claims that police publicly humiliated family members

Finnish rap artist James Nikander, better known by his stage name Musta Barbaari, has posted a Facebook account of what he claims is the public humiliation of his mother and sister at the hands of plainclothes police officers on Friday. Police say a prosecutor has been appointed to lead an investigation into the incident.

Räppäri Musta Barbaari eli James Nikander.
James Nikander, aka Musta Barbaari Image: Petteri Paalasmaa / AOP

A Facebook post by the popular Finnish rap artist Musta Barbaari, real name James Nikander, went viral on Monday after he accused police of inappropriate conduct towards his mother and sister. He said the plainclothes officers asked the women to produce their passports without explaining the reason for the request.

According to his online post, Nikander’s sister refused to show her passport following which the officers handcuffed her and placed her mother on the ground. Officers from a second patrol that arrived on the scene examined the women's purses, following which the sister was released.

The rapper wrote that after his sister was released she began to record the incident on her phone. When police noticed, they took away the phone. It later appeared that the recording had been erased.

According to Nikander it later emerged that one of the plainclothes officers had lost his police ID and accused the women of taking it. Although police performed a body search and examined their purses they did not find the missing item. The mother's tablet was broken in the hour-long process, the rapper claimed.

"The situation went on for an hour, for one hour my sister and mother were publicly humiliated," Nikander wrote. He added that his mother is still in shock over the incident.

Police respond

Helsinki Police said that they were carrying out an illegal immigration spot check on Friday evening in which they asked several people to show their passports. They added that the incident resulted in a public disturbance, but are unwilling to comment further on the specifics of the case.

The police noted that the persons concerned have filed a police complaint regarding the incident and an investigation has been handed over to the Eastern Uusimaa police department. A prosecutor has been assigned to lead the investigation and will also be responsible for informing the public about the case.

More spot checks

While performing a specified task, Finnish law gives police officers the right to request that a person give their name, nationality, identification number (or birth date) and domicile (or place they can be reached).

Finnish Police have redoubled their efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants in the country with more spot checks in the Helsinki city centre and throughout the country. The idea is that police can ask people for proof that they have been granted the right to be in the country.

This enhanced control has also received its share of feedback.

In late April the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman called on Helsinki police to respond to claims that police action has amounted to racial profiling. The Ombudsman said several members of the public had complained about being targeted for police checks because of their appearance. She requested and received a report from the police on the matter.

The police emphasised in their report that illegal immigration spot checks are always carried out with suitable justification and that no arbitrary or ethnically targeted checks have occurred.

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