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Parliamentary ombudsman issues a prosecution order

Parliamentary Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen ordered that three Helsinki District Court judges and one public servant of Helsinki detention unit be prosecuted for negligent breach of official duty. The charge is based on failure to process decisions to keep foreigners taken in custody in isolation as required by the law.

On security-related grounds laid down in the law, the director of a detention unit may decide that a foreigner taken in custody will be kept isolated from other persons in the detention unit. As such a decision aggravates the deprivation of liberty, the district court shall, under the law, hear the matter immediately and at the latest four days after the foreigner was placed in isolation.

Based on the pre-trial investigation conducted in this matter, a total of 246 notifications of foreigners kept in isolation had been sent to the district court between the years 2006 and 2015. However, the district court had not taken action to organise a court hearing in a single one of these cases.

This came to light as the Ombudsman inspected the detention unit in December 2014. The Parliamentary Ombudsman ordered a pre-trial investigation to be launched in March 2015. By order of the National Police Board, this investigation was carried out by Häme Police Department. The pre-trial investigation documents were submitted to the Parliamentary Ombudsman for consideration of charges in June 2016.

The more detailed contents of the order of prosecution and the pre-trial investigation documents will be secret until the court hearing in the case begins. The charges will be brought by a State Prosecutor assigned by the Prosecutor General.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman will not issue further information on the case until the documents have become public. The Parliamentary Ombudsman's order of prosecution of 31 October 2016 (record no 1178/2/15) will be published on the Ombudsman's website at a later date.

The presenting officer was Principal Legal Adviser Mikko Eteläpää, tel. (09) 432 3359