The Finnish government has watered down its proposal to amend the assembly act following grumbling from the opposition parties.
The government proposed earlier this year that the organisers of public meetings be obliged to notify police of the meeting at least three days, rather than six hours, prior to the beginning of the meeting. It has now amended the proposal to lengthen the notification window from six hours to one day.
The objective of the proposal remains to guarantee the ability of law enforcement authorities to secure the right to protest.
“The proposal would make it possible to issue a notification of a demonstration also after the 24-hour deadline, provided that organising the meeting causes no unreasonable harm to public order. It would therefore still be possible to organise spontaneous meetings,” reads a press release from the Ministry of Justice.
Antti Häkkänen (NCP), the Minister of Justice, reminds in the press release that police are responsible for ensuring everyone has an opportunity to protest without being disturbed by other people.
“The right to protest freely is a fundamental element of Western societies,” he states.
The Ministry of Justice also highlights that social media has made it possible to stage large demonstrations and counter-demonstrations at a short notice.
“The six-hour notification window has proven too short for making sure police are able to secure the right to assembly under all circumstances and, if necessary, talk to the organisers of the meeting,” the press release reads.
The bill was presented to the Parliament on Thursday. The amendments are to come into effect in August 2019.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi