Following a series of court battles that began in 2017, the Supreme Court of Finland ruled this week to uphold a ban on the neo-Nazi group Nordic Resistance Movement (PVL). This makes Finland, who has been a Member Country of the IHRA since 2010, the first to ban this group, which is still active in other countries in Northern Europe.
The group, which sought to establish a National Socialist state, was linked to a number of violent incidents in Norway and used tactics that involved the spreading of hate speech. The Court ruled that its activities constituted a misuse of the rights afforded under freedom of speech and assembly. Noting that the group’s activities were “significantly contrary to law,” the Finnish Supreme Court upheld the decisions of the two lower courts.
The National Police Board had initially requested the group’s banning in 2017, noting that their activities, which included spreading “hateful rhetoric about immigrants, sexual minorities and Jews” were in violation of “the law and good practice.”
Initially brought before the Pirkanmaa District Court, the case was decided in favor of the police. The group then appealed the decision, with the Turku Court of Appeal, and now the Supreme Court, upholding that decision.
A significant decision in the fight to curb hate speech in Finland
The first such ruling in forty years, the case also serves as an important example of how law enforcement and the judiciary can play a role in broader efforts to combat antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion. Engaging these stakeholders and encouraging training programs that allow for them to better identify antisemitism and the dangerous effects of Holocaust denial and distortion can help to advance the democratic principles that such extremist groups seek to jeapordize.