Päivi Räsänen (Christian Democrats), the Minister of the Interior, views that the demands for an investigation into the actions of police officers during the May Day march in Helsinki are unwarranted.
“I'm under the impression that no issues related to police actions have emerged that would necessitate an investigation by the Ministry [of the Interior],” she commented after receiving a report on the events from the National Police Board.
“If any party feels the police acted unlawfully or otherwise wrongfully, it's always possible to lodge a complaint,” she added. The possible complaints will be considered either by the Parliamentary Ombudsman or by the Chancellor of Justice.
The report presented to Räsänen does not, however, refer to the procedural fault the Helsinki Police Department admitted to in a statement issued earlier today. “That's news to me,” the minister revealed.
On Friday morning, the Helsinki Police conceded that the wooden sticks confiscated from a vehicle during the march were unrelated to the protest of the anarchists. “If a mistake has taken place, it's good that it's rectified and an apology is issued. Authorities are also responsible for evaluating their own activities,” viewed Räsänen.
The minister similarly does not subscribe to the accusations by representatives of the Left Alliance that the actions of the police violated the freedom to protest. “The police have not interfered in the expression of opinion. I'm under the impression that the police sought to guarantee the safety of the protest and the right to express political opinions to the best of their ability,” she viewed.
The police, Räsänen pointed out, had announced in advance that no offensive weapons disguised as flag poles will be allowed during the march. The announcement was also conveyed through Takku.net, a website of the anarchists, on 29 April.
“Participants of the march surely understood that the police have the right to remove such flag poles,” estimated Räsänen.
Räsänen similarly dismissed the allegations by some participants and by-standers that police officers used excessive force during the march. “To my knowledge, the police tried to use as little force as possible,” she said.
“The right to free expression is an important civil right […]. While authorities ensure that the right is realised, I hope that also others respect the right by not seeking to cause harm to people or property,” the minister underlined.
Lasse Kerkelä – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
© HELSINGIN SANOMAT
Photo: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva, Police handout