Republic of Finland
Head of state: Sauli Niinistö
Head of government: Juha Sipilä (replaced Alexander Stubb in May)

Reforms to immigration and asylum legislation made some limited improvements to the detention of asylum-seeking and migrant children, but concerns about detention conditions remained. Support for victims of gender-based violence remained inadequate and under-resourced.


In July, amendments to the Aliens Act on detention of asylum-seekers and migrants came into force. The law stated that unaccompanied children under the age of 15 can no longer be detained under any circumstances. However, unaccompanied children aged between 15 and 17 may be detained for up to 72 hours once there is an enforceable decision on their removal from Finland; the period of detention can be extended by 72 hours for extraordinary reasons. Families with children may be detained where no sufficient alternatives exist, and where the child and a social welfare representative's views have been heard.

The legislative amendments included restrictions on visits and broader authorization for trained staff to use force in detention centres.

In August, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture published its report on Finland, recommending several improvements to legislation on detention and conditions of detention.


In April, Finland ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), which entered into force in Finland in August. Despite ratification, there was neither an action plan nor any dedicated budget for the effective implementation of the Convention. Services for women who have experienced violence remained inadequate and under-resourced. Finland fell short of the shelter requirements and recommendations in the Istanbul Convention, and despite the national shelter network becoming state-funded and co-ordinated, the number of shelters and accessibility for disabled people was insufficient. There were no walk-in services, no long-term support services for survivors of violence, nor a 24/7 helpline for victims of gender-based violence.

In September, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health prepared a draft decree to create a body to co-ordinate work combating violence against women. The Ministry proposed that the body consist of a network of civil servants working within the limitations of their current offices, but envisioned only a limited role for women's or victim support organizations.


Legislation on legal gender recognition continued to violate the rights of transgender individuals. Transgender people can obtain legal gender recognition only if they agree to be sterilized, are diagnosed with a mental disorder, and are aged over 18.


In June, the new government stated an intention to draft legislation criminalizing travel for terrorism purposes and participation in organizations proscribed as terrorist organizations by the EU and the UN.


Conscientious objectors to military service continued to be punished for refusing to undertake alternative civilian service, which remained punitive and discriminatory in length. The duration of alternative civilian service was 347 days, more than double the shortest military service period of 165 days.

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