Ombudsman says racism becoming established in Finnish politics

The ombudsman says that there were both positive and negative developments last year.

Racism and hate speech threaten to become normalised in politics, according to Non-Discrimination Ombudsman Kristina Stenman in her annual report.

Harsher rhetoric in politics has an impact on society as a whole, according to Stenman, after a year in which the government was rocked by several racism scandals.

“Language is both a reflection of reality and a constructor of reality,” said Stenman.

According to the ombudsman’s press release, the office has been contacted by many people concerned about the spread of racism and hate speech.

Stenman also said she was concerned about a weakening of the rights of foreigners resident in Finland, and racism in educational settings.

The non-discrimination law was amended in 2023 to strengthen the duty of educational providers to intervene when racism and other harassment is reported.

The ombudsman’s role is as a watchdog to safeguard people’s constitutional and human rights. In 2023 the office received some 2,400 reports with more than 70 percent concerning discrimination of one kind or another.

In June last year, the office received powers to investigate workplace discrimination. In the rest of the year the office received 372 complaints about workplace discrimination, with the largest chunk (64 reports) concerning ageism.

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