Legal proceedings “The most significant solution for years” – according to professors of criminal law, Johanna Vehko’s acquittal clarifies the limits of freedom of speech in Finland

The Supreme Court dismissed Vehko’s charge of insulting Junes Loka.

The highest the decision of the Supreme Court (KKO) to reject the journalist-author Johanna Vehkoon allegation of defamation clarifies inconsistent case law, says professor of criminal law at the University of Eastern Finland Matti Tolvanen.

On Tuesday, the KKO overturned a previous ruling by the Rovaniemi Court of Appeal, according to which Vehkoo had violated the Oulu City Councilor Junes Lokan honor. Vehkoo had described Loka as racist, Nazi and Nazi.

Lokka is known for his sharp and disruptive language. He has been convicted of incitement against a group of people, among other things.

Read more: The Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit against journalist Johanna Vehko for insulting Junes Loka

Professor Tolvanen considers KKO’s preliminary decision to be a significant policy in defamation matters.

“There was a need for a preliminary ruling because there has been inconsistency in both defamation and conviction practices in defamation cases. I believe that this solution will clarify the situation, ”says Tolvanen.

In the order for reference, he considers it important to consider the significance of the context for the presentation of possible derogatory expressions.

“It has been unclear where the border goes. Is the expression itself decisive or the context in which it is presented? The preliminary ruling states that the context is decisive, ”says Tolvanen.

The same expression may thus be punishable as an insult in one context but not in another. According to Tolvanen, the decisive factor in the case of Vehko and Loka was that Lokka had previously used offensive expressions from others.

“When you leave the game, you have to be prepared to get harsh criticism yourself. Then you have to put up with more yourself if you have used offensive expressions. The District Court and the Court of Appeal had a different view of this than the Supreme Court, ”says Tolvanen.

Context In addition to its importance, the preliminary ruling confirms the interpretation of freedom of expression, according to which public actors may be given a higher rating than ordinary citizens, says a professor of criminal law at the University of Helsinki Kimmo Nuotio.

“The decision of the Supreme Court is the most significant decision on freedom of speech in Finland,” says Nuotio.

According to him, the Supreme Court assessed the case more broadly than the Court of Appeal and the District Court, which convicted Vehko of defamation.

“The District Court and the Court of Appeal had a very narrow view that this was a criticism made by an individual against another individual on Facebook. The Supreme Court thoroughly assessed that the main purpose of the writing was not to bark at an occasional person but to highlight his mode of action. ”

Unlike the lower courts, the Supreme Court regarded Junes Loka as a social actor who could be criticized more than usual.

According to Nuotio, it is also significant in the preliminary ruling that Facebook writing receives the same type of protection of freedom of speech as traditional media when it comes to criticizing a public actor.

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