July 2001

Rioters register "problematic"

A plan to create a rioters' register to stop EU summits from being disturbed by violent demonstrations does not meet EU Ombudsman approval. In an interview with the Finnish Broadcasting Company radio news, Jacob Söderman expressed concern that the register would end up including ordinary demonstrators as well.

"It is very clear that if attempts to limit summit demonstrations mean collecting information about professional anarchist demonstrators, there is a great risk of including the wrong people", Söderman said.

According to Söderman, it is worth considering whether the EU summits are necessary anyway. He thinks that decisions could be made following normal decision-making processes in appropriate EU institutions.

The Ombudsman thinks that the summits tend to provoke demonstrations which attract trouble-makers, giving a negative image of the EU. The demonstrations are also harmful to hosting cities, he said.

According to the Finnish media, it is unlikely that Nordic countries will support Belgium's proposition of a rioters' register which would also mean limiting the freedom of movement of suspected trouble-makers.

Finnish police authorities have also expressed doubts about the wisdom of collecting data on trouble-makers. They have emphasised that the EU Charter guarantees the freedom of movement as one of the most important citizens' rights. A police representative also carefully criticised the actions of the Swedish police during the Gothenburg summit.

The EU ministers of justice and interior affairs met in Brussels on Friday to discuss ways of stopping violent demonstrations during EU summits.


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