Comment The police threatened the whistleblower with criminal liability in his release, but to whom was the obscure message addressed?

Police secrecy has increased in recent years. Now the new tool in the pack seems to be the threat of criminal liability.

To the police Press releases appeared on Monday in a report issued by the Police Board on Monday. Little was still said about the threat and its nature, but preparedness was reported to continue. Since the threat was reported to have diminished.

On Monday, the Police Board first pointed out that handling the case in public could undermine the ability to protect against the threat.

“In addition, many of the relevant information is unequivocally confidential or secret under the law and its disclosure to the public may result in criminal liability for its disclosures.”

Bulletin of the Police Board 14.2.2022

Sentence electronically in atmosphere deliveries. What exactly did the Police Board mean by criminal liability?

Did it try to block leaks from its own ranks, or was the threat even intended to suggest that journalists who write about it could also be prosecuted for a crime if they find out something and tell the people what it is about?

One reporter after another called the Police Board to ask what the sentence really meant. Prior to calling HS, two other editors had asked about it.

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Soon there was an email refinement.

“The sentence, among other things in the same press release, explains to the media and thus to the public why neither the police units nor the Police Board can reveal precise details about the current situation without sanctions. So we tell you why and on what basis we can’t tell. ”

Sentence and there seems to be a gaping gap between it and the explanation given for it.

It is quite a different matter to say that because of legal secrecy, an authority cannot provide more detailed information than that “handling the matter in public may result in criminal liability for its whistleblower.”

Instead, a sentence fits into the intention of the Police Board in recent years to conceal its activities even more precisely. This has been done with a tightened interpretation of the Public Access to Information Act.

The secret secret has even had sad features. The clearest example is the Police Board’s misinterpretation that belonging to a criminal organization is strictly confidential hobby information, so this information must be removed from the pre-trial investigation material.

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Read more: Concealment of gang members’ names found illegal – Police still seem to continue concealing in private cases of other crime suspects

The police the latest tool in secrecy seems to be the threat of criminal liability.

I experienced this myself when I recently lodged an appeal with the administrative court against the decision to conceal the police in Eastern Uusimaa.

This time the complaint was easy to make, as it was known what information the police had concealed. Normally, questioning government encryptions is tricky. On this side of the fence, one cannot know whether there is really a legal reason for concealing the blackened points.

However, the police in Eastern Uusimaa had failed to conceal. The blacked areas were made visible by copying the text and moving it to a Word file. Because the encrypted passages did not appear to contain anything genuinely secret, there was a unique opportunity to argue about publicity along the same lines as the authority.

However, the police in Eastern Uusimaa struck back. In its reply to the Administrative Court, it stated that no confidentiality had been made to the complaint. In any case, it warned against disclosing the information and recalled that there was a penalty for violating confidentiality.

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“In this regard, the Police Department notes that the Publicity Act also obliges Reinboth to keep secret information that the police department has classified, despite his own opinions.”

Well otherwise not obligatory.

The Publicity Act applies to the authorities and does not impose any obligation on third parties to keep information secret.

It is really worrying that the authority, even the police, is hinting at an individual citizen – or a journalist – about this offender without a legal basis for the hint.

The obvious purpose of such pressure is to silence the public debate. The average citizen may not be aware of all the twists and turns of the law but will take it seriously when the authority threatens punishment.

So two suggestions could be made.

One: Police communicate with their own gang only through messages directed at them, not through public bulletins.

Two: Police threaten citizens with punishment only when based on the law.

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