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Åland regional government and the head of its police unit released secret information into the public domain

Deputy-Ombudsman issues reprimand

21.5.2010

Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja has given the Åland regional government and its unit chief responsible for police affairs a reprimand for having acted improperly and unlawfully. Both had released information which is required to be kept secret under the Act on the Province of Åland, which applies to the publicity of public documents, into the public domain.

Head of police unit gave a newspaper information on a person who had been taken into custody and his state of health

The head of the provincial government's police unit had given the newspaper Ålandstidningen information on the taking into custody of a person and his state of health. On the basis of this information, the newspaper published on 25.11.2009 an article in which it referenced in detail the contents of the police protocol of the detention and the provincial government's internal investigation of the matter.

The article gave a chronologically precise account of the course of events during the night and described the pains and symptoms of the person taken into custody and the medication given for them. In addition, the head of the unit commented on the events in the article.

Deputy-Ombudsman Pajuoja found that the head of the police unit had given the newspaper health- and police authorities-related information that is required to be kept secret  and thereby acted in contravention of the Act.

Provincial government likewise published secret information about the same person on its web site

The fact that the person had been taken into custody had already earlier featured in the Åland press. For that reason, the head of the provincial government?s unit responsible for police affairs had asked for a report on the events. The report was dealt with at a meeting of the provincial government on 17.11.2009, after which the decision was published, with annexes, on the government's web site.

An annex contained health- and police authorities-related information that is required to be kept secret as well as other sensitive personal data, which when published on the Internet, as well as in a newspaper, are conducive to causing suffering to or are unpleasant for the person concerned. In addition, the provincial government?s action was contrary to good registration practice and violated the privacy of the person who had been taken into custody.

The Deputy-Ombudsman reminded the provincial government that it must ensure that information that is required to be kept secret and violates privacy is no longer accessible on the Internet. A report that the information has been deleted must be made to the Deputy-Ombudsman by 16.8.2010.

Additional info will be provided by Legal Adviser Astrid Geisor-Goman, tel. + 358 (0)9 4321.