Last Updated: Friday, 29 August 2014, 14:18 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Finland

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Finland, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee7d37.html [accessed 31 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Finland (Tier 1)

Finland is a transit and destination country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking, and for men and women subjected to conditions of forced labor. Female sex trafficking victims originate in Russia, the Baltic countries, the Caucasus, Asia, Africa, Central Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean; forced labor victims come primarily from India, China, Thailand, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Forced labor victims are exploited in the construction industry, restaurants, agriculture, in berry picking fields, and as cleaners and domestic servants. There were indications that forced begging was also a problem during the reporting period. There were reports that migrants who had voluntarily traveled to Finland were coerced to work long hours for minimal wages through threats of violence and other means of control; Finnish authorities believed there were likely small numbers of trafficked workers in most major Finnish cities. The Finnish National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and NGOs suspected au pairs, foreign students, and asylum seekers were vulnerable to trafficking. Some Finnish teenagers reportedly are exploited in prostitution.

The Government of Finland fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government increased the number of trafficking cases investigated under Finland's trafficking statute. The Finnish national rapporteur published her first report, an exemplary and comprehensive critical assessment that offered the government concrete guidance on improving its counter-trafficking policies. Although some continued to report that the government required excessive evidence for victim certification, thereby obstructing victim care and prosecutions, the government increased the number of trafficking victims identified during the year. It also cared for trafficking victims in mixed-use shelters, which put trafficking victims at risk of being re-victimized. In the coming year, the government should continue to dedicate efforts to identify more victims of trafficking, and investigate and prosecute more cases under the trafficking statute.

Recommendations for Finland: Encourage prosecutors to make greater use of the trafficking statute to investigate and prosecute cases; continue training for investigators, prosecutors, and judges on human trafficking and the rights of trafficking victims; ensure traffickers receive sentences commensurate with the gravity of the crime committed; encourage victims to participate in the criminal process by consistently offering victims the benefits of the reflection period and employing victim-witness safety procedures in all trafficking prosecutions; ensure that all actors in the criminal justice system and first-responders understand the system of victim protection; ensure that victims of trafficking are offered appropriate housing and specialized care, taking into consideration the risks of secondary trauma inherent in mixed-use shelter; consider developing a unified set of trafficking indicators to encourage consistency and coherence in trafficking identification; consider establishment of a specialized anti-trafficking police or prosecutorial unit; encourage officials to proactively identify potential sex and labor trafficking victims and refer them to services to which they are entitled under Finnish law; ensure that male victims of trafficking, particularly victims of labor trafficking, are offered equivalent services as female victims of trafficking; continue to offer victim identification and referral training to judges, labor inspectors, and other officials with investigative authority; and explore increased cooperation between different labor entities, including labor inspectors, the police, the tax authorities, and the safety and health administrations, to prevent and identify labor trafficking.

Prosecution

The government modestly improved its law enforcement efforts during the reporting period, investigating more cases using Finland's trafficking statute, although the majority of trafficking cases were still prosecuted under other laws and conviction rates remained low. Law 1889-39 of the Finnish penal code prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes up to 10 years' imprisonment for convicted offenders, penalties sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Other criminal statutes which prescribe lower penalties, such as pandering, continued to be used frequently to prosecute sex trafficking offenders. In 2010, the Government of Finland reported initiating 11 trafficking investigations under the trafficking statute, including four sex trafficking investigations and seven labor trafficking investigations. The government investigated 60 alleged trafficking offenses using other statutes, including the statutes for usury and aggravated pandering. In 2009, the government reported investigating 59 cases of human trafficking. The government prosecuted at least seven trafficking offenders for trafficking in persons during the reporting period, including two offenders under the trafficking statute. This represented a modest increase from 2009, in which authorities prosecuted at least five people for sex trafficking offenses and two for labor trafficking. In 2010, the government convicted at least seven trafficking offenders, though none of the convictions relied on the trafficking statute. In 2009, two people were convicted for trafficking offenses. This year, each offender was sentenced to approximately three years in prison; there were no reports of suspended sentences. In 2009, sentences ranged from 1.5 to 5.5 years in prison. The Finnish national rapporteur reported that the failure to investigate certain cases as trafficking cases rendered problems for victim care and victim rights in the trial process; in cases not investigated and prosecuted as trafficking cases, victims did not have the same rights and benefits during investigations. The rapporteur also concluded that investigators and prosecutors sought excessive evidence for initiating trafficking prosecutions, in part by placing heavy emphasis on the lack of victim consent during the initial recruitment stage; there was evidence of coercion in several pandering cases not classified as trafficking cases. The Finnish government provided several anti-trafficking trainings for its officials to enhance victim identification and prosecutions. The National Bureau of Investigation and the Ministry of Justice conducted five training sessions over the course of 2010 and early 2011 that educated 200-300 reporters, law enforcement personnel, government officials, and NGO staff on trafficking in persons. This program has been formalized in advanced training that is now offered at the Police College of Finland, in addition to anti-trafficking training offered during basic police training.

Protection

The government's victim protection efforts improved in 2010, as the government identified and assisted more victims than in prior years. The government fully funded victim protection efforts for trafficking victims, whether foreign or domestic. The government provided both direct care and funding for appropriate third-party care for trafficking victims through two asylum reception centers that offer shelter, psychological assistance, medical care, and other services to identified victims of trafficking. The staff of these reception centers were also empowered to unilaterally authorize care for trafficking victims, even when law enforcement authorities did not identify a person as a trafficking victim. However, both international organizations and the national rapporteur claimed that the mixed population and lack of specialized care in reception centers posed risks for the re-victimization of trafficking victims, particularly victims of sex trafficking. In 2010, the government asylum reception centers reported that they spent $769,835 on the care of trafficking victims. During the reporting period, the Government of Finland approved permanent annual anti-trafficking funding to one Finnish NGO that functions as an umbrella organization for ethnic minority women. Officials identified 52 victims during the reporting period, an increase from 13 victims identified in 2009. Nevertheless, both NGOs and the National Rapporteur reported that the system of victim protection was not clear to all actors in the system, impeding effective victim protection. Although police and border guard officials used a series of written guidelines on victim referral and treatment developed by the Finnish Immigration Service to proactively identify victims of trafficking, other stakeholders used different trafficking indicators, leading to confusion in victim identification. The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders. Under the Act on Compensation for Crime Damage, victims of crime were entitled to receive government compensation for personal injury, damage to property, or other financial loss caused by a crime. However, an international organization concluded that safety procedures for victims of trafficking were unevenly employed during trial. Finnish law allowed identified trafficking victims a six-month reflection period, during which they could receive immediate care and assistance while considering whether to assist law enforcement. The rapporteur indicated, however, that the reflection period was not provided consistently; this year no victims received it. Victims of trafficking wishing to stay longer than six months were eligible to apply for an extended residence permit or asylum as an alternative to deportation, including a permit on compassionate grounds if they feared threats in their home country. The government granted a residence permit to one trafficking victim during the reporting period. Although the government made some effort to ensure identified victims were not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, the National Rapporteur documented cases in which potential victims of trafficking apprehended at the border had been sentenced to conditional imprisonment for immigration offenses or forgery at the border.

Prevention

The government continued increasing its efforts to prevent human trafficking, particularly by establishing and empowering its national rapporteur. The Finnish government produced and distributed pamphlets about human trafficking and victims' rights to vulnerable groups, such as persons in prostitution. Nevertheless, there were no reports that the government engaged in robust prevention or awareness-raising activities on labor trafficking. The government organized its anti-trafficking activities through its interagency National Steering Group. The national anti-trafficking rapporteur, an independent entity within the government, continued its extensive analysis of the government's anti-trafficking efforts and advocated for specific changes through its public report; this office encouraged self-critical policy examination and positive momentum in the government's anti-trafficking policy. To prevent child sex tourism, the government also distributed brochures at a travel show to thousands of Finnish citizens, highlighting the damage child sex tourism causes to children. The government continued to provide assistance to other governments for counter-trafficking programs. For example, the government provided approximately $200,000 to combat human trafficking in Southern Africa. The Finnish government provided anti-trafficking training to all forces prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.

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