Swedish environmental activists about the treatment in Finnish custody: they dehumanized us.

The original article (in swedish) can be found here.

Activists that got arrested during the demonstrations against Fennovoima’s nuclear power plant in April, were kept in the police custody for whole two weeks before they were released or moved/displaced. Yle News has been talking with one of them that have witnessed the inhuman treatment by the police. The last week in April the activists that had put up a camp in Pyhäjoki next to Fennovoima’s nuclear power plant building area, got some reinforcements from several other countries. The activist group Stop Fennovoima planned several demonstrations during the week, when the Chernobyl accident’s 30th year anniversary attracted attention.

Two of the activists that made their way to the Hanhikivi cape to demonstrate, were the swedes Anna and Peter, that want to stay anonymous in this article.

They participated in the occupation on Hanhikivi and in the actions that fast escalated into violence between the police and the protestors. On Thursday the 28th of April they got arrested together with about thirty other protesters.

Demonstrators in Pyhäjoki clashed with the cops on the Chernobyl accident’s 30th anniversary on the 26th of April. Anna and Peter got arrested two days later during a more violent action.

Three days and nights inside without a shower.

After the arresting they were brought to a cell in the Raahe police station, but they never got informed about their rights.

– During the three first days we didn’t get to know anything about our rights. We didn’t get any toothbrush, neither go to shower or go outside. It was only when the lawyer got involved that we got to even know that we had the oppurtunity to do this, Anna tells.

It was therefore several days and nights (24h) before the activists got informed about their rights, something that according to the law should happen immediately when the arrested person gets into custody.

Anna also tells that the treatment didn’t get more humane even if they at last got to take care of their hygiene and spend time outside.

– I had imagined to get to see sunlight or take a walk on a piece of grass. But the outside part was only a cold and dark room with concrete walls and a small opening in the mesh fence.

Anna and Peter spent their three first days and nights (24h) in a room without a window and without pastime such as books or paper and pen.

Naked through the corridor

Anna also describes the hospitality from the cops as cold and at one point also sexist. She describes how she have got treaten humilating when she after three days in custody got the oppurtunity to take a shower.

– I got a tiny towel, one of those that are used for wiping hands with. When I was ready the guard refused to give me my clean clothes from my bagpack. I was more or less forced to walk out in the corridor with the towel that almost didn’t cover anything.

– It’s anyway a working place but I got to go naked to the cell with a tiny piece of fabric when the guard walked behind me, she says.

According to Anna and Peter the cells didn’t get cleaned during the beginning of their time in custody and after a while the rooms got filled with left-overs from food and cardboard boxes. Neither the floor or the toilettes got cleaned.

A letter to the president of Finland and to the Prime minister of Finland.

Peter is still sitting in custody, waiting for a trail, but he got transfered to the prison of Oulu the 16th of May, after two weeks and four days in the cell in Raahe police station.

Peters mum has written a letter to both the President Sauli Niinistö and to Prime minister Juha Sipilä where she demands/requires for an investigation around the behaviour from the Police in Raahes custody.
The letter where she asks why her son has been kept in degrading and inhuman conditions, have also been sent to the Swedish ambassador, Amnesty, minister of interior Petteri Orpo and Justice Minister Jari Lindström.

– The treatment he has exposed to is inhumane. Everybody has to have the fundamental rights to get out and have it clean around them, says the mother. Last Sunday she got to see Peter for the first time since the arrest, when she visited the prison of Oulu.

Have to speak English with relatives

Peters mum got the information about her son’s arrest on the 1st of May. But when he called her from the custody he was forced to speak English, otherwise the police would break the call.

– The first time I talked with him he was totally in a verge of a breakdown. We were also forced to speak in English with each other, so it was a very weird situation, says the mum.

She thinks it’s remarkable, considering that Finland is an bilingual country where there should also be service available also in Swedish.

Anna also tells that the was forced to speak English with her parents.

Risking one year in prison

Peter is for the moment waiting for his trial that will be hold the 8th of June in Ylivieska-Raahe district court.

He will be prosecuted along with a Finnish activist for rioting and violent opposition of an official.

The prosecutor has demanded a prison sentence of 1 year and 3 months.

“No hard feelings”

Anna was in custody for 12 days and nights (24h) before she got released on the 10th of May. She tells that her defence lawyer’s secretary has been very helpful to get her on a flight back to Sweden.

But she doesn’t have any good view of the Finnish prison system. She remembers clearly the last comment that she got when she got released and was pointed the way to the bus stop.

– When I got released the police said: “No hard feelings”. I think it’s quite notable last words after that experience.

“We haven’t received any complaints”

When Yle News is calling the police to get a comment the reporter is directed from one police to another. In the end, it appears that the responsible head of police custody in Raahe is on vacation. His deputy chief superintendent Jyrki Pelkonen says, however, that they did not receive any complaints.

– The police department leadership is not aware of such information. We have not received any complaints and no one has requested that the matter should be investigated. I can not confirm that this is true, says Chief Inspector Jyrki Pelkonen at the police department in Oulu.

Finland criticized by anti-torture committee

The Finnish authorities have as recently as in August last year, been criticized for the so-called police detention – the police custody facilities, where detainees are temporarily stored.

A report by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CPT) urged authorities to stop keeping people in police station cells.

The report, published on 20 August last year the CPT suggests that until the authorities completely stopped keeping people in police custody premises, they must guarantee at least an hour of proper exercise outdoors per day for the prisoners. In addition, they must offer pastime in the form of sports, books, television or board games.

According to the law:
– Keep the detained rights curtailed more than is required.
– Detainees should get treated fairly and with respect for human dignity.
– Detainees should not without valid reasons get discriminated because of race, national or ethnic origin, color, language, sex, age, family status, sexual orientation, health, disability, religion, social opinion, political or industrial activity or any other cause terms of the detained person.
– Detained person should be given the opportunity to notify a relative or another person if the detention.
– Detained should immediately after arrival at a local cell get informed of the conditions of the detained and the rights and obligations. The information shall be available in the most used languages in accordance with the detainees needs.
– Foreign detainees should be informed of the opportunity to be in contact with their home country missions. Foreign detainees should also be offered an interpreter, whenever possible.
– The set of rules that apply to detainees, should be held accessible for the detainees.
– Detainee should have appropriate storage and washing room at their disposal.
– Detainee should be given the opportunity to spend time outdoors every day at least an hour, unless the detained health or a particularly valid reasons constitute an obstacle to it.