Republic of Finland
Head of state: Sauli Niinistö
Head of government: Juha Sipilä

Changes to the asylum procedure affected asylum-seekers negatively. Support services for women who experienced domestic violence remained inadequate. Legislation on legal gender recognition continued to violate the rights of transgender people. Draft constitutional changes limiting the right to privacy were proposed.


In September, the right to free legal representation in the asylum interview during the asylum procedure was restricted, limiting it to applicants with exceptional grounds for assistance. Deadlines for appeals were reduced from 30 days to 21 days in the second instance, and to 14 days in the third instance. The changes increased the likelihood of asylum-seekers being forcibly returned to countries where they might be at risk of human rights violations (refoulement).

Family reunification was restricted to those who had a secure income, set at an unreasonably high threshold. Further administrative restrictions and practical difficulties with the application procedure adversely affected the ability of refugees and other recipients of international protection – including unaccompanied children – to enjoy their right to family life.

The authorities continued to detain unaccompanied children, and families with children based on their migration status. There was no time limit on detaining families with children.


Legislation on legal gender recognition continued to violate the rights of transgender individuals. Under the Act on Legal Recognition of the Gender of Transsexuals (Trans Act), transgender people could obtain legal gender recognition only if they agreed to be sterilized, were diagnosed with a mental disorder, and were aged over 18.

In April, the National Advisory Board on Social Welfare and Health Care Ethics raised concerns that intersex children were subjected to unnecessary medical procedures, without full informed consent.


Services for women who had experienced violence remained inadequate and under-resourced and varied significantly between municipalities. The number of shelters and their accessibility for women with disabilities remained inadequate. Neither adequate walk-in services nor long-term support services for survivors of violence were in place. No co-ordinated national network of support services for survivors of sexual violence had been set up.

The definition of rape in the Criminal Code failed to incorporate a lack of consent. Mediation continued to be used widely in cases of intimate partner violence.

In September, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health prepared a second draft decree to create a body to co-ordinate work combating violence against women.


In October, a draft constitutional amendment limiting the right to privacy was published. Its aim was to enable the acquisition of information on threats to national security, by giving military and civilian intelligence agencies permission to conduct communications surveillance without any requirement for a link to a specific criminal offence.


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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