The recent grooming scandal in northern Finland involving migrant gangs has spurred a debate on harsher penalties for non-Finnish sex criminals, with the Interior Ministry proposing a crackdown referring to the “Finnish sense of justice”.
Finnish Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen from the National Coalition Party has suggested that immigrants and asylum seekers in Finland who commit sexual assault should be deported and/or have their citizenship revoked, national broadcaster Yle reported.
Mykkänen stressed that what he called the “Finnish sense of justice” would easily accommodate the idea of deporting sex offenders. According to the centre-right minister, tougher punishments could have prevented at least some of the sexual assaults that have occurred in recent years.
“Foreigners need to get the message that if you commit aggravated sexual crimes, you will be deported”, Mykkänen told Yle. According to him, stripping someone of their citizenship may become a necessity under certain circumstances.
The Parliament’s Administration Committee and Constitutional Law Committee have both been asked to explore the possibility of interpreting international treaties in a way to label aggravated sex crimes as “attack on the fundamental values of Finland”, according to Mykkänen. At present, a proposal to strip individuals committing acts of terrorism or treason from Finnish citizenship is already in the works. However, as of today, it doesn’t cover sexual offences.
Pekka Nuutinen of the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) gave the thumbs up to Mykkänen’s idea, suggesting that more severe ramifications would act as a deterrent for asylum seekers and immigrants.
“Harder sanctions down to deportation could have a preventative effect”, Nuutinen said, citing a spate of sexual offences against minors that was uncovered in the northern Finnish city of Oulu in early December, triggering harsh condemnation from Finland’s leading officials, including Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and President Sauli Niinistö.
The alleged members of the grooming gang, arrested on suspicion of brutally raping and sexually assaulting girls as young as ten, were reported to be quota refugees or asylum seekers from the Middle East. Nuutinen stressed that the criminal actions of those seeking asylum in Finland cannot be blamed on “lack of information” or “ignorance”.
“Migri has sought to educate asylum seekers on Finnish legislation and the definition of sexual assault in Finland. I believe offenders such as these are aware they are doing something illegal”, Nuutinen said.
However, as Finland remains firmly committed to eradicating statelessness, the proposal, if enacted, would only target criminals who hold another citizenship alongside their Finnish citizenship, thus considerably narrowing down the choice.
Earlier this year, the news outlet Ålands Nyheter reported that non-Finnish and non-Scandinavian men are eight times more likely to commit rape than their local counterparts. While only one person in fourteen on the Finnish archipelago is of non-Scandinavian descent, their proportion among those convicted of rape is a staggering 38 percent, Ålands Nyheter wrote, having studied verdicts from Åland courts from the past decade.