Saturday, November 17, 2012

PETITION: To Chief of National Traffic Police, Finland

Recipient: Kari Rantala, Chief of the National Traffic Police

Subject: Guarantee Immediate Return of Driver's Licence

Dear (recipient's name),

I am writing to express deep concern in regards to the controversial seizure of a driver's license by police in Jyväskylä. The circumstances surrounding the seizure put into question the values of fairness and objectivity of the National Traffic Police.

On 28.10.2012, police seized the driving licence of X [name withheld here because the affected party wishes to remain anonymous online], a 29-year-old student of African origin in Viitasaari, Jyväskylä. He was driving to Helsinki from Oulu when he noticed a police van behind him in Jyväskylä. The van drove behind him for about 20 minutes and then pulled him over. The officers invited him into the police van where they checked his driving licence and car registration. According to his report, he was told that someone had called the police and reported that he had violated traffic regulations by driving over a yellow line and overtaking many cars in the process. According to the police, X overtook cars in front of him twice in a junction and once through the lane of oncoming traffic.

X disputed the claims to the no avail. Police seized his license - based on what they heard from a caller. The officers reportedly intimidated him to accept the claim but he stood his ground. Despite his word against the unknown caller's word, police seized his license for "gross traffic safety endangerment".

The police tested X for alcohol after seizing his license. Results revealed that he had not drank alcohol.

It has been three weeks, as of the time of this writing, since the driving licence was confiscated and X has not heard anything from the police. Neither has he been invited for a hearing. He has repeatedly contacted the Helsinki Police Department numerous times but there is no information about his driving licence. He has lost a job that requires him to have a driving licence.

I believe seizing a driver's license based strictly on hearsay constitutes a due-process violation and goes against values of fairness and objectivity promulgated by the National Traffic Police. The action of the officers in this case suggests bias based on the origin of the driver involved. I therefore respectfully demand the following:
  • Immediate return of the driver's license pending an investigation into alleged violation of traffic regulations
  • An investigation into circumstances that surrounded the seizure to ensure that there was no abuse of power by the police officers involved
  • Ensure that police do not take punitive measures without enough evidence to support a claim
I recognize the important role of traffic police in ensuring road safety. However, due process and National Traffic Police values of fairness, neutrality and objectivity should not be compromised in the process of keeping roads safe.


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UPDATE: Petition closed for signatures.

*Photo: Yle.

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