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Wed, 11 Dec, 2013 03:47:36 AM
Heated debate in parliament on NGOs working with children
FTimes-STT Report, December 11
True Finns Arja Juvonen plenary sessions of Parliament on Tuesday. Photo – Str / Lehtikuva.
The treasury bench and the opposition on Tuesday engaged in a heated debate in parliament regarding whether to make criminal records checking mandatory for voluntary organisations working with children.
Voting on the bill's contents will take place on Wednesday; but apparently, the parties in the ruling alliance will vote for “voluntary” instead of “mandatory” checking.
The opposition party Perussuomalaiset (True Finns), the parliamentary Committee on Culture and Education and the Employment and Equality Committee demanded mandatory extraction of criminal records for volunteers as a measure to safeguard children’s welfare.
Meanwhile, most of the members of the ruling six-party alliance within the Legal Affairs Committee are not in favour of mandatory checking. The said it should be voluntary on grounds that the move might create difficulties in the activities of the organisations, evemtially casting negative impact on children.
File Picture of Children. Photo - Lehtikuva.
Anne Holmlund of Kokoomus (National Coalition Party), also the Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee, turned down the Perussuomalaiset lawmaker’s proposal for mandatory check terming it “totally incomplete.”
Earlier, the parliamentary body on education took the initiative to introduce the provision for mandatory checking of criminal records.
The committee members said it would be not wise if criminal records are checked only at the initial stages. They said the authorities would keep on checking records continuously. 
The government, however, said the criminal records could be asked for but it should not be made mandatory because then it might have negative impacts on the welfare of children.
The logic for keeping the provision optional was that if it was made mandatory, then organisations may get discouraged to voluntarily work with children.
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