The Social Democrats’ Nasima Razmyar and Matias Mäkynen were photographed leaving a meeting of the Social Democratic Parliamentary Group in the Parliament House on Tuesday, 9 July 2024. Razmyar has called on the group and its leaders to make sure rank-and-file lawmakers have the freedom to vote their conscience on the long-debated border security act. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

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NASIMA RAZMYAR, a deputy chairperson of the Social Democrats, has called on the opposition group and its leadership to ensure rank-and-file lawmakers have the ability to vote their conscience on the much-discussed border security act without fear of repercussions.

“I’ll personally vote against it, and I hope the group won’t tie the hands of those who’re asking for [the freedom] and who’re able to justify their stance,” she commented to YLE on Tuesday.

“Come Friday, I hope that all our representatives will use their discretion and consideration, and choose how to vote based on that.”

Razmyar said the Social Democratic Party has been too cautious during the public debate surrounding the controversial legislative project, thus providing the government with the space to move forward with the “deeply problematic” act.

“Committing to the constitution and international human rights treaties is at the core of our values, but neither the party nor the parliamentary group has given enough space for this discussion during the spring,” she said to the public broadcasting company. “Instead we’ve given the government space to move forward with the deeply problematic act as we ourselves have maintained radio silence.”

The Parliament’s Administration Committee on Tuesday tweaked the bill, but the tweaks do not suffice to address its problems, according to Razmyar. Also legal scholars have viewed that the tweaks do not make the bill any more palatable from the viewpoint of Finnish and EU law.

Atte Harjanne, the chairperson of the Green Parliamentary Group, on Tuesday revealed in the Parliament House that he has adjusted his position on the bill, from tentatively supporting to not supporting it, reported Helsingin Sanomat.

He is thereby set to vote in line with the rest of the opposition group, which earlier this week decided unanimously to vote against the bill.

Harjanne justified his change of heart by arguing that the act would ultimately fail to deter Russia from amassing migrants at its land border with Finland while flagrantly violating national commitments under international human rights treaties and EU law. He also echoed the concerns of several other lawmakers by criticising the government for weighing up alternative approaches only superficially.

“The EU path was practically completely ignored,” he was quoted saying by the daily newspaper.

The government, he viewed, appears to have fixated on its approach from the beginning and has failed to sufficiently take into account the criticism of numerous legal scholars.

“You should keep in mind that around the world restrictions to rights are almost exclusively justified with national security,” he pointed out.

Members of Parliament will vote on the bill on Friday. A five-sixths majority is required to declare the bill as urgent and a two-thirds majority to pass it.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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