STATEMENT: Now you see hate crime, now you don’t

Last week, we read about two cases where the police service did not find bias indicators in two violent cases involving a Somali Finn and an asylum seeker in Jämsä.

The formula for determining a hate crime is straightforward: crime + bias motivation = hate crime.

The following bias indicators are taken into account when determining a hate crime: comments, victim perception, organized hate groups, pattern, intense violence and specific targeting, no other obvious motive, timing, and differences between the victim and the perpetrator(s).

The Criminal Code of Finland does not recognize the term “hate crime.” Section 5 states that a basis for increasing punishment (564/2015) is if the “offense for a motive based on race, skin color, birth status, national or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability or another corresponding grounds.”

Case One

Involves the death of an eighteen-year-old Somali Finn stabbed in April by a white Finn at the Kannelmäki train station. On September 14, the suspect was handed a five-year prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter.

The mother of the victim said that she and her husband are unhappy with the sentence.

“The prosecutor tried to get a hate crime charge pinned on the suspect,” said the mother, Ilhan Jama. “The person [who stabbed my son] alleged that he was scared by my son’s presence, or that a dark-skinned person was walking towards him down the stairs.”

Case Two

The second case, involving an asylum seeker in the Central Finnish town of Jämsä, appears to have left out important information about the crime.

Even if the asylum seeker does not speak Finnish well enough, he did make out the following words: vitun pakolainen (f**king asylum seeker) and vitun ulkomaalainen (f**king foreigner).

Doesn’t this point to a possible hate crime? The crime is an unlawful threat with a knife + victim perception = hate crime.

The knife used to threaten the asylum seeker.

Steps in the right direction

Whenever the police fails to convince that bias motivation was not a factor it is a blow to the credibility and fuels greater mistrust from the victim’s group.

Another factor that undermines trust is the long length of these investigations, which in the Jämsä asylum seeker case took over a year.

If the police and Finland’s institutions, which are mainly white, want to fuel trust and good relations with our culturally diverse communities, they should pay special attention and implement measures that increase trust.

For further information contact:

Enrique Tessieri, European Islamophobia Report Finland chapter author

+358 40 8400773

Anti-Hate Crime Organisation Finland was founded in September 2018 and registered as an NGO the following month. The aim of the NGO is to tackle and eradicate hate crime and all forms of discrimination in Finland such as anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Afrophobia, misogyny, and other forms of social exclusion through education and training, seminars, events, conferences, among others.

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