Last Updated: Friday, 25 July 2014, 12:52 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Finland

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 14 June 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Finland, 14 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c1883f42d.html [accessed 28 July 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 for women and girls from Russia, the Baltic countries, the Caucasus, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution, as well as Indian, Chinese, Pakistani and Bangladeshi men and women in forced labor. Forced labor victims are exploited in the construction industry, restaurants, agriculture and as cleaners and domestic servants. There were indications that forced begging was also a problem. Officials believed that most labor trafficking was tied to non-Finnish businesses and speculated there are likely small numbers of trafficked workers in most Finnish cities. NGOs suspected foreign wives involved in arranged marriages were vulnerable to trafficking. Finnish teenagers in prostitution may also be vulnerable to human trafficking. The government estimates that there may be hundreds of trafficking victims in Finland every year.

The Government of Finland fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Although victim identification numbers remained low, the government initiated new forced labor prosecutions and drafted an in-depth assessment of the government's anti-trafficking efforts, which will be made public later in 2010. The government's efforts to monitor and scrutinize its anti-trafficking actions reflected a high level of political will to address human trafficking.

Recommendations for Finland: Encourage prosecutors to make greater use of the trafficking statute; ensure traffickers receive sentences commensurate with the gravity of this human rights abuse; consider establishment of a specialized anti-trafficking police 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; expand victim identification and referral training to judges, labor inspectors, and other officials with investigative authority; and explore ways to streamline government funding and other support for anti-trafficking NGOs.

Prosecution

The Government of Finland made limited progress in prosecuting and punishing trafficking offenders during the reporting period. Law 1889-39 of the Finnish penal code prohibits all severe 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 – such as pandering, which prescribe lower penalties – were exclusively used to prosecute sex trafficking offenders; one official suggested amending the pandering provision to encourage prosecutors to use the penal code's trafficking statute for sex trafficking. Police reported conducting 59 human trafficking investigations during 2009. In 2009, authorities prosecuted at least five people for sex trafficking offenses and two for labor trafficking compared with nine prosecutions for sex trafficking in 2008. In 2009, two people were convicted for trafficking offenses, down from nine in 2008. Since 2006, sentences have ranged from 1.5 to 5.5 years imprisonment; there were no reports of suspended sentences. There were no known reports of government complicity in trafficking during the reporting period. Although the government does not have a specialized anti-trafficking law enforcement unit, it integrated formal anti-trafficking awareness into police and border guard training curricula for new recruits and in-service personnel. The government has also provided anti-trafficking training to its prosecutors for the past four years.

Protection

The Finnish government sustained victim assistance efforts during the reporting period. It continued to provide direct shelter, trafficking-specific rehabilitative assistance, and medical care to adult and child victims in addition to its provision of funding for NGO-run shelters. 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; however, one official raised concerns that the threshold for referral to services was too high. During the reporting period, officials referred 13 victims to service providers, raising concerns about the low number of potential victims identified and the effectiveness of victim identification procedures. 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 could receive government compensation for personal injury, damage to property, or other financial loss caused by a crime. Finnish authorities provided identified trafficking victims with a six-month reflection period, a time for victims to receive immediate care and assistance while they consider whether to assist law enforcement. There were no indications, however, that the reflection period was used extensively. 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. The government granted permanent residence permits to seven victims during the reporting period. The government made some effort to ensure victims were not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The government provided anti-trafficking awareness training for labor inspectors, diplomatic personnel, public health workers, immigration adjudication staff and Finnair flight attendants.

Prevention

The government made progress in its efforts to prevent human trafficking. The national anti-trafficking rapporteur, an independent entity within the government, drafted an extensive assessment of the government's anti-trafficking efforts and included recommendations for improvement applicable to a global audience; the report will be made public later in 2010. The government's efforts to monitor and scrutinize its anti-trafficking actions reflected a high level of political will to address human trafficking. Officials targeted women in Finland's commercial sex trade for distribution of pamphlets on trafficking indicators and their rights in source country languages. Through ongoing partnerships with civil society, the government funded a series of NGO-operated hotlines servicing victims of trafficking and domestic violence. In an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex, the government prosecuted 35 people for buying sexual services from a victim of human trafficking. The Finish government bolstered an anti-trafficking partnership with the Government of Nigeria by providing approximately $1.1 million toward Nigeria's anti-trafficking agency. For another consecutive year, the government distributed brochures to thousands of visitors at a major annual travel fair warning that child sex tourism is a crime. Finland's laws provide extraterritorial jurisdiction over child sex tourism offenses perpetrated overseas by Finnish nationals. The government did not prosecute any persons for suspected child sex tourism offenses in 2009. The Ministry of Defense provided Finnish troops assigned to international peacekeeping missions with intensive anti-trafficking training aimed at providing deployed forces with the ability to identify potential trafficking victims; there were no trafficking-related cases involving Finnish troops or government personnel deployed overseas in 2009.

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