NATO | Could you be sentenced to death in Finland? Questions arose during the statement round of the NATO agreement

Among other things, Chancellor of Justice Tuomas Pöysti raised the issue of the death penalty in his statement regarding the NATO Sofa Agreement, which is central to NATO membership.

So called The entries in the government’s draft motion regarding the NATO Sofa Agreement regarding the death penalty are inconsistent. It would be desirable to clarify the matter in the bill submitted to the parliament.

This is the summary assessment of the Chancellor of Justice Tuomas Pöysti and several other entities that have given their statements

of the draft of the government’s presentation

regarding the NATO Sofa Agreement.

“It seems that it is not excluded that a foreign – currently an American court – could also sentence a member of its forces to the death penalty on the territory of Finland,” Chancellor of Justice Pöysti says to HS.

“This contradicts the constitution and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights,” he reminds.

Chancellor of Justice Tuomas Pöysti.

The government in the draft motion, it is proposed that the parliament would approve the NATO Sofa and the so-called Paris Protocol, as well as some related laws.

NATO Sofa concerns the status of the forces of the member states of the military alliance when they operate in the territory of another member state. The Paris Protocol, on the other hand, concerns the status of international military staffs in the territory of another NATO member state.

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As a NATO peace partner country, Finland has already applied the agreements in question. Now it joins them with NATO membership.

The round of opinions on the draft of the government proposal ended at the end of last week.

Question the entry of the death penalty into the agreement is essential in principle, since the largest NATO member state, the United States, has the death penalty in force.

The problem is that NATO Sofa directly prohibits only the execution of the death penalty in the host country, i.e. in this case Finland. However, it does not directly prohibit sentencing for it in Finland.

However, the Finnish constitution and international agreements binding Finland prohibit not only the execution of the death penalty in Finland, but also the sentencing to it in Finland.

It would therefore be necessary to ensure that the United States cannot sentence to death its soldiers serving here in Finland.

This is despite the fact that the situation is probably very unlikely, as stated in the draft bill.

In the draft we rely on the interpretation that the recording of the agreement that the sending state commits to respect the legislation of the receiving state means in practice that the death penalty is not allowed on the territory of Finland.

At the same time, on the other hand, it is mentioned that there are different interpretations of what exactly is meant by respect among NATO member countries.

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Stuck states in its statement that the obligation to respect the legislation of the receiving state does not in itself limit the powers of the country sending the troops.

It also seems that there are cases where the issue of sentencing to the death penalty in the context of NATO Sofa has come up, he points out.

Finland does not present a separate reservation to NATO Sofa concerning the death penalty. This has not been considered possible because other countries have not done so either.

According to HS’s information, the effort has instead been to get a separate solution to the matter with an arrangement outside the actual contract.

Pöysti points to a possible exchange of political notes with the United States.

He says this would be good, but not completely eliminate the problem. This is because a political document is not the same as a legal agreement.

“Any kind of political material that supports taking European legislation into account is good, but if it is not a legal norm, it will not completely eliminate this problem.”

According to Pöyst, if there is no full certainty on the matter, Finland must state that the ambiguity remains, and the agreement must be discussed in parliament with a two-thirds majority. This is how it is presented in the draft.

Pöysti also estimates that the lack of clarity on the matter should be recorded clearly enough in the justifications of the final government proposal, so that the parliament will be informed about it.

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In addition, it would be good to get even more information about the contract interpretation practice.

Pöysti emphasizes that the issue of the death penalty is by no means the only reason why the implementation of the NATO Sofa Agreement requires the so-called narrow constitution-making procedure. These facts also include, for example, the limited jurisdiction of foreign courts, prosecutors and military police in Finnish territory.

He considers that none of these is an obstacle to the agreement’s approval and implementation, but they affect the order of enactment.

The death penalty In their statement, the section of the motion regarding the matter is also highlighted by the Bar Association, the Helsinki Court of Appeal and the Rauhanliitto.

For example, the Court of Appeal considers that making a separate reservation for the death penalty or at least an explanation would be “a more legally valid option to secure the realization of human rights.”

Many of the statements given in the statement round have a neutral attitude to the government’s draft proposal.

In addition to the death penalty, questions also arise about the right of troops to bear arms in their free time and the powers of military police.

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