On 17 October 2023, Professor Kimmo Nuotio, Board Member of the Finnish China Law Center held a guest lecture on ‘Agitation to Hatred as an Offense Finnish, Nordic and European Perspectives’ as part of the PKU Law School Distinguished Global Faculty Lecture series.
Professor Nuotio’s lecture discusses the issues of agitation against population groups in Europe. He mentions that in the Finnish Penal Code, a provision on the topic was first adopted in 1970 as required by the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination. The provision gained prominence following the 2015 immigration crisis in Europe, and the rise of far-right and nationalist movements such as the Nordic Resistance Front. He discusses the question of balancing freedom of speech and restricting illiberal and racist utterances, citing the prohibition of the Nordic Resistance Front in Finland case as an example.
Professor Nuotio further addresses specific issues such as the use of Nazi symbols, Holocaust denial as an offense, and the need for legal provisions against it in Finland and other EU member states. He talked about the relationship between religion and hate speech, mentioning that Finland still has a penal provision for breach of religious peace whereas the other Nordic states already have abolished them. The lecture also highlights the ongoing debate on how to protect freedom of speech while safeguarding minority populations.