Sex abuse cases colour im­mi­gra­tion de­bate in Fin­land

Irish Examiner - - World News - Tarmo Virki

The par­lia­men­tary heads of two of Fin­land’s largest par­ties have called for ac­tion after in­ves­ti­ga­tions against 19 for­eign-born men on sus­pi­cion of sex­ual abuse of mi­nors.

The is­sue has boosted the sup­port of the anti im­mi­gra­tion, pop­ulist The Finns Party, whose pop­u­lar­ity jumped two points to over 10% in the lat­est poll pub­lished by broad­caster YLE ahead of a par­lia­men­tary elec­tion on April 14.

Po­lice say there were for­eign-born men among the 16 in­ves­ti­gated for rape or other sex­ual abuses of ado­les­cent girls in the town of Oulu over the last two months. Yes­ter­day, po­lice in Helsinki said that they had ar­rested three for­eign-born men on sim­i­lar charges.

Antti Kaikko­nen, par­lia­men­tary head of the coali­tion-lead­ing Cen­tre Party, called for a meet­ing of all the par­lia­men­tary party heads, tweet­ing: “Ev­ery­one who comes to Fin­land has to fol­low the lo­cal laws.”

Antti Lindt­man, par­lia­men­tary head of the main op­po­si­tion party, the So­cial Democrats, said: “The ques­tion is, are there mea­sures we could take now, even dur­ing this term, to pre­vent cow­ardly crimes like these? Yes, there are.”

Prime min­is­ter Juha Sip­ila tweeted that the gov­ern­ment would dis­cuss the “in­hu­man and rep­re­hen­si­ble events” twice next week. The topic is shock­ing for Fin­land, which sees it­self as one of the safest and hap­pi­est coun­tries on earth.

A cit­i­zens’ ini­tia­tive to with­draw asy­lum from peo­ple con­victed of a sex crime has dou­bled its sig­na­tures in just a few days and reached 25,000 yes­ter­day which is half the to­tal needed to force par­lia­ment to con­sider the is­sue.

The coun­try of 5.5 mil­lion peo­ple has his­tor­i­cally had very few im­mi­grants. The is­sue has be­come more fraught since the Euro­pean refugee cri­sis of 2015, which caused the num­ber of asy­lum seek­ers to al­most quadru­ple to 28,208 in 2016.

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