In his decision, Deputy Chancellor of Justice Mikko Puumalainen intervenes in the illegal activities of the police and the inability to identify the crime of trafficking in human beings, and requires several actions from the Police Board. Puumalainen underwent 50 preliminary investigations in an extensive investigation, which was launched after HS revealed serious problems related to the investigation of human trafficking crimes in the spring.
Deputy Chancellor of Justice Mikko Puumalainen strongly criticizes the police in investigating trafficking and related crimes. Puumalainen made an exceptionally broad decision in the matter on Tuesday. The investigation was launched after Helsingin Sanomat revealed problems related to police operations in an extensive article in the spring.
In his decision, the Supreme Law Enforcement Officer Puumalainen intervenes in, among other things, illegal decisions of the investigation, the prolongation of investigations for years without proper grounds, and the fact that the rights of the victim of a suspected crime have not been properly exercised.
Puumalainen demands several measures from the Police Board, including strengthening the police’s own control over the legality.
Puumalainen states that “such a wide-ranging and serious problem requires attention from the police’s own internal law enforcement and would play an important role in ensuring the identification and prompt investigation of trafficking offenses”.
Minister of the Interior Krista Mikkonen (Green) commented on the decision of the Deputy Chancellor of Justice to HS through his assistant. According to Mikkonen, “the results of the investigation are worrying and require action from the police leadership”. HS has not yet reached the Chief of Police Seppo Kolehmaista to comment.
Deputy Chancellor of Justice underwent 50 police preliminary investigations for a decision. In 12 of them, the Deputy Chancellor finds an illegal procedure on the basis of which he makes a remark to the police department. The police departments of Helsinki, Eastern Uusimaa, Häme, Eastern Finland and Oulu will receive the remark.
In 15 cases, the Deputy Chancellor draws the attention of the Chief Investigator or the Police Department to the procedure in accordance with the law or good administration. This is also the case in one case concerning the conduct of a prosecutor.
The activities of one investigating director have been brought before the public prosecutor as a suspected police criminal case. According to HS, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has already decided to open a preliminary investigation into the investigating director in question.
One case is otherwise pending and 20 cases did not give rise to law enforcement allegations, the decision states.
Deputy Chancellor of Justice writes in its decision that, although some of the cases investigated have been dealt with properly, “the investigation into this case has nevertheless revealed serious shortcomings in the identification of trafficking in human beings by the police and the prompt conduct of pre-trial investigations”.
“This has long been a topic in domestic and international sources of law, in monitoring their implementation and in the debate on the protection of fundamental and human rights. Several recommendations have been made and action programs have been made. However, it has not yet been possible to tackle the problem in such a concrete and detailed way, ”Puumalainen writes.
“However, this has not been due to the administration but to other actors. The cases dealt with in this judgment have come to my notice after HS has written on the subject. I have also learned of the complaints and the information provided by the Crime Victim Support Service. Without these sources, the matter would have been left in the dark and this solution would not have been made. ”
Puumalainen states that the “key goal” of his solution is “to try to influence the recognition of human trafficking in the police and prosecution and, finally, to achieve a qualitative change for the better”.
“Proper victim identification also contributes to crime prevention and the prevention of trafficking in human beings. Equally essential, once identified, is to conduct a preliminary investigation in a prompt and high-quality manner so that criminal liability can eventually materialize. This requires the comprehensive and long-term development of police action against trafficking in human beings. It is essential to take responsibility for fighting this serious crime, ”Puumalainen writes.
Puumalainen writes that resources – that is, money – are key here.
“How to prioritize or not prioritize human trafficking in the allocation of resources is ultimately a decision by the Police Board. Equally essential with the adequacy of resources is their legal and efficient use. It is clear from this solution that there is still a lot to develop. ”
Puumalainen also states that the Supreme Law Enforcement Officers have stated in parallel in their decision-making practice that deficiencies in the organization of official duties or resources cannot be acceptable grounds for neglecting the proper performance of duties.
“Factors such as seasonal variations in the number of jobs and changes in staff for various reasons are part of the normal operation and management of the authority. They are, at least to some extent, foreseeable, in which case they can and must be prepared for in advance by appropriate arrangements. In the police, this is primarily the responsibility of the management of the police department concerned and ultimately of the Police Board. ”
Woody draws attention in its decision to the small number of crimes against human trafficking that end up in the courts in Finland, and considers that this may be “an indication of a serious structural problem in the criminalization of trafficking in human beings”.
“This has many negative consequences: the fundamental and human rights of victims are not realized, the production of human suffering and criminal exploitation is not addressed, the implementation of international obligations is neglected and human trafficking corrupts society, breaks its value base and distorts business,” Puumalainen writes.
“The low number of criminal cases and convictions also prevents human trafficking from becoming a visible, identifiable and well-known legal phenomenon.”
Deputy Chancellor of Justice states in its decision that ‘in a number of cases, decisions have been taken by the police to open pre-trial investigations only after I had begun to investigate the matter and asked the authorities to investigate the matter’.
In addition, the Southwest Finland Police Department has more generally examined the investigation procedures in cases closely related to trafficking in human beings and related criminal offenses. As a result, eight cases have been returned to investigation and training has been increased.
Puumalainen welcomes the fact that the police authorities have on their own initiative evaluated other pre-trial investigation decisions than those under investigation, and have promised to train their personnel. According to Puumalainen, the study shows that “there are serious shortcomings in the competence of investigating officers in identifying a crime of human trafficking”.
Deputy Chancellor of Justice considers the efforts of the Police Board to date to be insufficient to address the phenomenon.
“The obvious shortcomings in the identification and investigation of trafficking in human beings by investigators and investigators have been highlighted in several different sections of this solution. It is clear that the Police Board’s training measures so far have been insufficient, although the Police Board has announced that it will invest in training and guidance related to human trafficking, ”Puumalainen writes.
“It must also be remembered that simply ensuring competence is not enough. Alongside this, the own attitude and motivation of a police officer or prosecutor to investigate trafficking offenses with high quality is also essential. However, this solution has not been able to further assess this dimension. Training can significantly strengthen the right attitude and motivation, as well as the self-confidence of researchers in the investigation of crimes against human trafficking. ”
The Deputy Chancellor of Justice calls on the police to monitor the legality of trafficking in human beings more closely to ensure the identification of trafficking offenses and the prompt pre-trial investigation “in order to bring about a real change in the current situation”.
The Police Board must also create the conditions for conducting a preliminary investigation in such a way that the preliminary investigations are not unreasonably delayed, Puumalainen states.
Woody writes that although cases of trafficking in human beings are a priority according to official police guidance, “they may still be seriously and unduly delayed”. The longest investigations into trafficking in human beings covered by the decision have lasted for about four years, without proper justification.
According to Puumalainen, most of the preliminary examinations he investigated have been delayed and “there have been unjustified delays in almost every police station”.
Puumalainen is concerned that there is such a big discrepancy between official instructions and practical measures.
“Several of the cases dealt with in this settlement have highlighted the illegal negligence and practices of the police departments. The police board should seriously consider how this could be addressed more effectively, for example through guidance, law enforcement and training. ”
Deputy Chancellor of Justice asks the Police Board to provide, by July 2022 at the latest, information on the length of investigations into trafficking in human beings and related crimes in the first half of the year, as well as information on pre-trial investigations lasting more than 12 months from each police station.
Puumalainen also requests the Police Board to investigate the pre-trial investigations that have been pending for more than 18 months and the reasons for their delay, as well as the measures to keep the pre-trial investigation times reasonable.
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