Head of state: Tarja Halonen
Head of government: Matti Vanhanen
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 5.3 million
Life expectancy: 79.5 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 5/4 per 1,000

Protection and redress for survivors of sexual violence were inadequate. Increasing numbers of asylum-seekers were transferred to other EU member states despite profound concern about reception conditions and access to fair asylum-determination procedures. Some children seeking asylum were detained. Conscientious objectors to military service were imprisoned.

International justice

The trial of François Bazaramba, a Rwandan national residing in Finland, began in September at Porvoo District Court. He faced charges of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and incitement to commit genocide in Rwanda in 1994 (see Rwanda entry). In September, civil society groups, including Amnesty International, called for adequate protection measures to be implemented for witnesses at the trial.

Violence against women and girls

Protection and redress for survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence continued to be inadequate in law and in practice. Rape continued to be categorized differently in the Penal Code depending on the degree of physical violence used or threatened by the perpetrator. The conviction rate for rape remained very low and certain categories of rape and other forms of sexual abuse were investigated and prosecuted only if the victim so requested.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

Accelerated asylum-determination procedures failed to guarantee adequate protection for asylum-seekers, including by not providing a suspensive in-country right of appeal. This led to some asylum-seekers being expelled while their appeals were pending.

Increasing numbers of asylum-seekers were returned to other EU member states for determination of their asylum claim under the Dublin II Regulation. Over the year, transfers under Dublin II amounted to 35 per cent of all the decisions taken by the authorities arising from asylum applications. The majority of these returns were to other EU member states where asylum-determination procedures and reception conditions, including detention, gave rise to serious concern.

Legislation continued to allow the detention of unaccompanied children seeking asylum. At least 29 children, 15 of whom were unaccompanied, were held in closed detention centres.

Prisoners of conscience – conscientious objectors to military service

The length of the civilian alternative to military service remained punitive and discriminatory; conscientious objectors were obliged to perform 362 days of alternative civilian service, more than twice the length of the most common military service – 180 days.

  • Seven conscientious objectors to military service were jailed for refusing to perform either military service or the alternative civilian service and most were serving sentences of 181 days' imprisonment.

Legal developments

In December, legislation providing a broad definition of torture as a criminal offence was adopted. However, the law contained a statute of limitations on torture.

In September, Finland signed the Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.


In March, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern at, among other things, the de facto segregation in housing experienced by migrants and Roma and the limited enjoyment by Roma of their rights to education, employment and housing.

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