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Home NATIONALNumber of district courts to be pruned
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Fri, 12 Feb, 2016 01:05:44 AM
Former justice minister censures govt decision
FTimes- STT Report, Feb 12
District court in Helsinki. Photo Lehtikuva.
A number of districts courts will be closed while others will be merged as a part of a proposed reform of the judiciary.
Justice and Employment Minister Jari Lindström at a press conference on Thursday disclosed the decision on the future network of district courts.
The district courts earmarked for closure are Hyvinkää, Kemi, Kokkola, Porvoo, Raasepori and Ylivieska.
In southern Finland, Vantaa, Hyvinkää and Tuusula district courts will become part of the Eastern Uusimaa District Court.
In western Finland, the Ostrobothnia and Central Ostrobothnia district courts will be merged. 
Furthermore, court offices will be shut in these nine locations: Kotka, Lohja, Raahe, Sodankylä, Imatra, Kuusamo, Savonlinna and Varkaus. Of these municipalities, court sessions will, however, continue to be held in Sodankylä, Kuusamo and Savonlinna.
After the trimming, district courts will be present in 20 municipalities. Currently the courts are present in 27 municipalities.
After the reform, district courts will be located in Espoo, Helsinki, Hämeenlinna, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kajaani, Kouvola, Kuopio, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Maarianhamina, Mikkeli, Oulu, Pori, Rovaniemi, Seinäjoki, Tampere, Turku, Vaasa, and Vantaa.
Meanwhile, 14 separate court seats will cease to exist in Alajärvi, Alavus, Kauhajoki, Kemijärvi and Kemiönsaari, among other places.
According to the government, the reform is aimed at strengthening the district court network structure to safeguard access to justice and quality legal protection in a changing environment.
Former Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson. File Photo Lehtikuva.
The reform proposal is to be placed before parliament in autumn and is scheduled to be implemented in 2018.
Meanwhile, former justice minister Anna-Maja Henriksson has criticised the planned trimming of the courts. Henriksson does not consider the move economically sensible.
“These savings obtained from these cuts are microscopic when it comes to putting public finances into shape. At the same time, these closures are harsh on the judiciary,” said Henriksson in a statement.
Earlier, in late December last year, the newly appointed Supreme Court president, Timo Esko spoke against reducing the number of district courts.
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