Speaker of the Parliament Paula Risikko (NCP) spoke to reporters in the Finnish Parliament on Wednesday, 13 February 2019. (Credit: Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)

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THE FINNISH PARLIAMENT surprised many by announcing only hours before its plenary session yesterday afternoon that the bill for new civilian and military intelligence laws has been taken off the agenda of the session.

Members of the Parliament were to debate the long-discussed legislative project based on a statement drafted by the Parliament’s Administration Committee.

The Administration Committee, however, decided to withdraw the bill from the agenda following the emergence of concerns that it had neglected to take into account observations made about the bill for civilian intelligence laws by the Parliament’s Constitutional Law Committee.

Paula Risikko (NCP), the Speaker of the Parliament, said parliamentary officials will now comb through the bill for any possible issues.

Professors Juha Lavapuro and Martin Scheinin expressed their concerns about the bill on Twitter on Friday. The Administration Committee, they estimated, has failed to take sufficiently into account observations about questions such as how to target network traffic intelligence operations and define search conditions.

“The Administration Committee’s proposal for a law on civilian network traffic intelligence is so weak that it gets an F,” tweeted Lavapuro and Scheinin.

The decision to withdraw a bill from the agenda at such a short notice is exceptional.

The Finnish Parliament in October voted overwhelmingly in favour of declaring urgent a series of constitutional amendments necessitated by the new intelligence laws, thus enabling the government to enact the laws by the end of its term in office.

Risikko on Wednesday also expressed her exasperation with the manner in which the experts drew attention to possible problems in the bill.

“Of course I hope that if there are doubts about what’s going on in this building, we wouldn’t have to read about them on social media. You can write directly to me. And you can also drop in for a visit, we’ll even offer you a cup of coffee. That kind of a practice would make much more sense,” she stated to journalists in the Finnish Parliament.

“There has to be a way to talk about these things in a timely manner,” added Risikko.

Her criticism was rejected almost immediately by Scheinin, a professor of international law and human rights at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

“We’ve tried the method she proposed. I wrote to the speaker and her assistant about a particular issue in the plenary session together with my colleague on 18 September 2017. We’re still waiting for a reply,” tweeted Scheinin.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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