Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) walking in the session hall of the Finnish Parliament in Helsinki on 17 June 2022. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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MEMBERS of the Finnish Parliament on Thursday gave their backing to a bill to reform the border guard act to allow for the restriction of inbound cross-border traffic in extraordinary circumstances, such as a hostile hybrid campaign carried out by a foreign country, reports STT.

Concerns that Russia could try to influence Finland by transferring high numbers of asylum seekers to the countries’ shared border are believed to be the main motivation for the reform.

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The Parliament also approved a proposal to update the emergency powers act to enable the invocation of emergency powers in response to a hostile hybrid campaign. The decision was made with the rarely used expedited procedure, which requires the backing of a five-sixths majority in the Parliament.

Overall 147 lawmakers voted for the update, whereas only one would have postponed the update until the next electoral term. Fifty-one lawmakers were absent from the vote.

“The Finnish and European security situation has changed fundamentally in recent months, and the risk of various types of hybrid influence has risen particularly,” commented Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP).

“I am glad we managed to add a new emergency criterion that covers especially hybrid threats to the emergency powers act so quickly and with such broad support from the Parliament.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT