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Neo-Nazis with swastika flags prepared for a protest march titled Kohti vapautta (Eng. Towards Freedom) in Kaisaniemi, Helsinki, on Thursday, 6 December. (Credit: Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva)
Neo-Nazis with swastika flags prepared for a protest march titled Kohti vapautta (Eng. Towards Freedom) in Kaisaniemi, Helsinki, on Thursday, 6 December. (Credit: Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva)

 

Martin Scheinin, a professor of international law and human rights at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, says he would be hesitant to ban the display of national-socialist symbols in Finland.

Scheinin points out that the public display of a symbol such as swastika can constitute ethnic agitation depending on the context and objective of the user already under the current legislation, regardless of whether the symbol is accompanied by a verbal message.

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“This interpretation is in line with the human rights treaties of Europe and the UN,” he tweeted on Thursday.

“I’m generally opposed to one-point criminalisations, because what should be punishable is a criminal mind rather than the ways it manifests itself. That’s why I’d rather use the already criminalised ethnic agitation than add a new section on displaying swastika,” explained Scheinin.

The issue has stirred up widespread public debate and calls to prohibit the public display of extremist symbols after police confiscated three swastika flags from far-right protesters in Helsinki on Thursday, 6 December. Kai Mykkänen (NCP), the Minister of the Interior, contributed to the debate by reminding that the possibility of banning the symbols of illegal extremist organisations is already under consideration at the Ministry of Justice.

Ex-President Tarja Halonen, in turn, said she would show “a yellow light” to the ban.

“I’d show a yellow light for determining whether it could be help in investigating incidents. On the other hand, prohibitions don’t really help: values must be internalised, because you can’t use the legislation to encourage people to do good,” she said in an interview on YLE TV1 on Saturday.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi