Intelligence operations are strictly supervised in Finland

The guiding values of Supo activities are legality, reliability and quality. The work of Supo relies solely on statutory powers.

 Illutration, House of Parliament in Helsinki.

Finland has Europe’s most comprehensive regulatory control of intelligence operations. This control is based on the work of line managers, coupled with separate internal supervision of legality. The Ministry of the Interior also supervises Supo operations.

The Intelligence Ombudsman has unfettered access

An Intelligence Ombudsman has supervised the work of Supo since 2019. The Ombudsman monitors legality and respect for fundamental and human rights in intelligence gathering.

The Ombudsman is an independent and sovereign public authority. The post of Intelligence Ombudsman is currently held by Kimmo Hakonen.

The Intelligence Ombudsman enjoys unrestricted access to the documents and information of Supo, and also to its premises and information systems for the purpose of on-site inspection.

The Intelligence Ombudsman is also entitled to attend when a court of law decides on the application of an intelligence gathering method. The Intelligence Ombudsman has independent standing before the court, and may lodge a petition for review of any decision that the Ombudsman considers to be unfounded.

The Intelligence Ombudsman may also monitor the application of intelligence gathering methods in real time, and is empowered to suspend their use. The Ombudsman is required to report any unlawful conduct for preliminary investigation.

Parliament also supervises Supo

The Parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Committee is responsible for parliamentary supervision of Supo.

While not supervising the legality of individual intelligence operations, this parliamentary Committee conducts general oversight of the types of information produced by intelligence gathering operations and of intelligence gathering methods.

The Parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Committee is empowered to take up any matter on its own initiative that falls within the regulatory control of Supo. The Committee may also submit a report to a plenary session of Parliament if it considers that the importance of the matter so requires.

The Committee has eleven members and two deputy members.