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Publication of final report of Citizens’ Panel on freedom of expression – Implementation of Panel’s recommendations to begin 

Ministry of Finance
25.3.2021 11.01 | Published in English on 25.3.2021 at 15.13
Press release

Minister of Local Government Sirpa Paatero today received the final report of the Citizens’ Panel which assembled in February to discuss measures that Finland should take to protect those working in public occupations from hate speech and to safeguard free expression of opinion. 

“The OECD has found that hate speech and online shaming directed at people working in public posts and positions is a growing problem in Finland. The Government takes these matters very seriously. Tackling this is part of a change in political culture that we are striving for. The free expression of opinion in a constructive environment without offending others is at the core of a well-functioning democracy. If a democratic system is able to function well, it will also be possible to introduce reforms in society and to bring greater equality,” says Minister Paatero.

The Ministry of Finance is setting up a preparatory working group which will operate to a condensed timeframe and will also include the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of the Interior. The group, in consultation with different ministries, has until the end of May to draw up timetables and allocate responsibilities for implementing the recommendations of the Citizens’ Panel. 

Report contains 25 measures proposed by the Citizens’ Panel for preventing hate speech and online shaming

In its recommendations, the Citizens’ Panel emphasises the need to make hate speech and online shaming visible, ensure definitions are straightforward and clear, and communicate with the public on the basis of these definitions, and also emphasises the proportionality of penalties, legal protection of victims, prevention, sufficient resources and the responsibility of online platforms. Research on the subject, along with communication and training, will also play an important role. The recommended measures were published separately in February.

The final report of the Citizens’ Panel is also valuable because of the information it contains on the way the work was carried out. The report includes a summary of the panelists’ experiences regarding the work of the Panel. 

The Citizens’ Panel is part of the ongoing OECD assessment of the scope for civil society to operate in Finland. The Panel participants were selected from all over the country through random sampling. The Citizen’s Panel was organised by Åbo Akademi University’s Social Science Research Institute (Samforsk). The work was commissioned by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice were not involved in the selection of the topic, but they did help the panel organisers establish an up-to-date picture of the related legislative work and recent steps taken in government and administration. The recommendations are those of the Citizens’ Panel and are not presented as the positions of ministries.


Inquiries:

Katju Holkeri, tel. +358 295 530 087, katju.holkeri(at)vm.fi

Johanna Nurmi, tel. +358 2955 30171, johanna.nurmi(at)vm.fi