Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2018, 14:34 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2008 - Finland

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 28 May 2008
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2008 - Finland, 28 May 2008, available at: [accessed 21 February 2018]
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.


Head of State: Tarja Halonen
Head of government: Matti Vanhanen
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 5.3 million
Life expectancy: 78.9 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 5/4 per 1,000

The government failed to take adequate steps to combat violence against women. Asylum-seekers and applicants for residence permits were subjected to unfair procedures. Conscientious objectors to military service continued to be imprisoned.

Violence against women

In May the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommended that Finland should consider specific legislation to criminalize domestic violence.

By the end of 2007 the government had not adopted a national action plan to combat violence against women.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

Accelerated asylum-determination procedures continued to deny sufficient time for claims to be considered thoroughly, and for every asylum-seeker to exhaust all avenues of appeal. Some asylum-seekers were expelled while their appeals were still pending.

The strict application of the so-called "Dublin II" regulations led to asylum-seekers being returned to the EU member state in which they first arrived for determination of their claim for asylum, even in circumstances where it was likely they would have been offered some form of subsidiary protection in Finland which might not be available in other EU states.

Asylum-seekers, including children, were detained unnecessarily. In some cases the right of unaccompanied minors to seek family reunification in Finland was not protected.

In some cases, residence permits were denied solely on the basis of information from the security police, which could be withheld from the applicant. The Supreme Administrative Court ruled that Administrative Courts were entitled to consider information from the security police in secret when deciding appeals against refusals of applications for residence permits.

The number of temporary residence permits issued to foreign nationals declined sharply, from 299 in 2006 to only 24 in 2007.


Legislation relating to special residence permits for victims of trafficking continued to require that in most cases such permits should be conditional on co-operation with the authorities in investigating and prosecuting those suspected of trafficking, unless the victim was considered to be particularly vulnerable.

By the end of 2007 Finland had not ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

Prisoners of conscience – conscientious objection

The length of the civilian alternative to military service remained punitive and discriminatory. Conscientious objectors were obliged to perform 395 days of civilian service, 215 days longer than the shortest and most common military service.

In December, Parliament approved changes to legislation which would shorten alternative civilian service to 362 days, and would recognize the right to conscientious objection in times of war or other public emergency. Amnesty International considered that the proposed length of alternative civilian service would remain punitive.

  • Amnesty International considered 12 imprisoned conscientious objectors to be prisoners of conscience. Most were serving sentences of 197 days for refusing to perform alternative civilian service.
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