The UJF has welcomed the draft legislation drawn up by the Ministry of Justice and published 27 May aimed at tackling threats and trolling by making them subject to prosecution.
The draft bill results from the goal outlined in the programme of the current government to intervene more forcefully in systematic acts of harassment, threats and trolling, which threaten freedom of expression, action by the authorities, research and the media.
“Eradicating acts of intimidation and harassment using stronger methods is of paramount importance for society and the media,” said UJF president Hanne Aho.
Journalists and the media must be able to operate freely, including without being subject to severe levels of harassment.
Until now, people who have been the target of threats and intimidation have had to make use of legal procedures themselves.
Under the proposed new rules, prosecutors will be able to charge suspects with making illegal threats, if such behaviour is directed at people in service jobs, healthcare and social work, commercial work, or education. The legislation would also include threats made to researchers and journalists.
The harassment of journalists due to their work is both a threat to them personally and to freedom of expression. The UJF points out that because of this threats against journalists should be included in the law as grounds for tougher penalties.
The union argues that social media platforms too should be held responsible for hate speech posted on them.
“Threats and harassment imperil democracy”, stresses Hanne Aho.