Prime Minister Antti Rinne (right) and ex-Minister of Justice Antti Häkkänen (left) talked about, among other things, the situation of Finnish women and children detained in camps in Syria at SuomiAreena in Pori on Wednesday. (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)

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LEADING FINNISH POLITICIANS on Wednesday continued to debate the situation of the Finnish women and children detained in camps set up for families of the so-called Islamic State in Syria.

The Finnish government has stated that it is exploring ways to resolve the situation but not, at the moment, considering evacuating the women and children.

Conditions at the camps have been described as harsh by both humanitarian organisations and families of the detainees. Young children, in particular, are believed to be in danger.

Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP) stated at SuomiAreena in Pori that the government is aware that the camp is an internment camp and that its residents are regarded as suspects by the Kurdish administration.

“Whether the Finns are suspects, we don’t know. They probably are,” he said during the annually held debate forum.

Antti Häkkänen (NCP), an ex-Minister of Justice, estimated that it would become practically impossible to produce evidence if investigations into the suspected offences were conducted in Finland. The difficulty to produce evidence, he warned, could lead to an uncontrollable situation if every member state repatriated its own citizens and subjected them to its own legal proceedings.

The Finnish EU presidency should according to him place priority on establishing an international tribunal to try the suspects and, consequently, finding a genuinely international solution to the problem. The idea of creating an international ad hoc tribunal for the purpose was floated initially by Sweden.

“The EU presidency has to be used to this end,” stressed Häkkänen.

His concern about the difficulty of producing evidence after repatriation was shared by both Jussi Halla-aho, the chairperson of the Finns Party, and Sari Essayah, the chairperson of the Christian Democrats.

“It’s absolutely clear that if we go get these women and bring them back to Finland, none of them will be convicted because it’d be practically impossible to investigate these crimes here so that we can prove culpability according to our standards. That’s the question here,” commented Halla-aho.

Ruling party members, by contrast, voiced their confidence in the Finnish legal system and drew attention to children’s interests.

“Finland is a legal state and in a legal state you abide by the principles of the rule of law,” underlined Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP), the Minister of Justice. “We’ll have to investigate. Our authorities will investigate. The police will investigate. If these people come to Finland, there’ll surely be a pre-trial investigation and, if there’s enough evidence, they’ll be charged and courts will deliver their rulings.”

“Finland honouring international agreements is what’s important,” she added.

Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo (Greens) said Finnish authorities, child welfare services and schools will co-operate in regards to the people possibly returning to Finland. “The Finnish state’s duty is naturally to do whatever it can to protect the interests and rights of children, and that’s what the government is looking into,” she told.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi