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Thursday's papers: Transnational divorce, suspect 'peace camp' and citizen's arrest kerfuffle

The newspapers on Thursday include a look at child custody battles in international divorces, a peace camp in Åland timed to coincide with military exercises in the Baltic, and confusing signals from the Justice Ministry on proposals that could allow the general public to make citizens arrests of undocumented migrants.

Newspapers, lehdet, sanomalehti
Image: Yle

The Yle News paper review is up and running despite a strike by delivery staff across the capital city region. Many papers went undelivered thanks to the dispute, which is in protest at changes to postal workers' terms and conditions of employment.

Helsingin Sanomat reports on the rise of international child custody disputes, and the woefully underprepared parents who often unwittingly end up fighting them. Yle News has covered international custody battles before from the migrant-in-Finland perspective, but Hesari focuses on Finnish parents in similar situations.

The issue is the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, which mandates that the permission of both parents is required to change a child's country of residence. After divorce that can be difficult, and HS includes several stories of Finns who have moved abroad and then been stuck in their new country after a relationship falls apart.

The paper notes that sometimes the dispute can be between two Finns. When a family moves abroad for work, the child's residence changes. That means that both parents need to agree to a return to Finland, and sometimes they don't.

Hilkka Salmenkylä, a lawyer specialising in international family law, says that people should remember one key fact.

"When you make a home in another country and have children that attend school, that country is the children's home," Salmenkylä told HS. "Then you can't necessarily leave, or if you do you might have to leave your children there."

Peace camp problems

This month sees huge military exercises in the Baltic Sea region, with Russia and Belarus conducting the Zapad 17 war games from 14 September and Sweden's Aurora 17 exercises running from 11 September. Zapad includes made-up enemy states and more than 100,000 troops, with Aurora somewhat smaller in scale.

From 8-10 September a Russian-Swedish peace camp will run on the autonomous Åland Islands, and that has aroused the suspicions of many in Finland. Ilta-Sanomat reports on the camp on Thursday, reminding readers that Finland's former ambassador in Moscow Hannu Himanen has described the camp as a "Russian operation" and said that it offers "media controlled by the Russian state the chance to influence opinions".

IS lists attendees, who include Russian artists and Swedish Green MPs it describes as 'oddballs'. Green MP Carl Schlyter has announced that he won't run for re-election, so disappointed is he with the Swedish greens' compromises since they entered government in 2014.

The paper also carries quotes from the organisers, who say they oppose the polarisation of opinion in Sweden and Russia. Camp organiser Pelle Sunvinsson says that in Sweden those who oppose co-operation with Nato are regarded as traitors, while Russians opposing increased militarisation are regarded as "foreign agents".

Citizens arrest of undocumented migrants?

On Wednesday Ilta-Sanomat reported that the Justice Ministry was set to stiffen penalties for undocumented migration, or as officials describe it, "illegal residence in the country".

The proposal would mean undocumented migrants could be jailed for up to six months, and that, reported the paper, had some other consequences. Janne Kanerva from the ministry told IS that the 6 month tariff would mean citizens arrest of undocumented migrants would be allowed after the change.

That was the top line picked by IS for their report, and the story caused something of a social media storm when it was published. Justice Minister Antti Häkkänen quickly jumped in to issue a denial on Twitter, saying that the ministry did not plan to bring violations of immigration law under the remit of the right to make citizens arrests.

IS did not back down, reporting on Thursday that the denial does not actually refute their story: the change in tariff automatically makes the offences subject to citizens arrest. Despite several attempts to contact him, reports IS, Häkkänen refused to comment on the matter further.

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