U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Finland

Finland (Tier 2)

Finland is a destination and transit country for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Traffickers often recruit women through surreptitious employment contracts and then force them into prostitution, or target women in the sex industry and force them to endure degrading conditions upon arrival in Finland. Victims are primarily from Russia and Estonia, and secondarily from Belarus, Latvia, Ukraine, Moldova and Southeast Asia (Thailand and the Philippines). Once in Finland, many victims are trafficked throughout the country and on to other Nordic countries and Western Europe.

The Government of Finland does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government's efforts improved in the past year, likely due to focused attention from the highest levels and stronger regional and bilateral programs. The lack of a criminal definition and institutionalized victim protections continued to hinder the government's progress, but improvement is expected with implementation of pending anti-trafficking legislation. The government should better educate the public about trafficking in Finland, especially focusing on the profile of a victim. Moreover, government efforts would benefit from an established a memorandum of understanding regarding information exchange and victim referral with NGOs.


Finnish law enforcement approached trafficking as organized prostitution and adeptly profiled the crime groups involved and cooperated within police services. But it did not evidence vigorous law enforcement nor did it provide any comprehensive statistics on its efforts. Law enforcement efforts suffered from the lack of a criminal statute on trafficking in persons. While some related criminal acts were prohibited, such as pimping, rape, fraud and sexual exploitation of a minor, the criminal code lacked other important elements. A specialized working group drafted new anti-trafficking criminal legislation to bring Finland in line with regional international standards. Border police made numerous arrests against organized prostitution rings, which resulted in court convictions from six months to one year's imprisonment. Finland provided criminal liaison officers in targeted source countries to enhance joint investigations and two regional investigations in early 2004 led to the disruption and arrest of several individuals trafficking Latvian and Estonian women into Finland. The government exercised extra-territorial jurisdiction over two Finnish nationals and arrested them for child sexual abuse in Estonia and Russia during the reporting period.


Finland has strong victim's rights laws, but lacks adequate victim assistance mechanisms; the government did not conduct widespread victim screening and rarely informed potential trafficking victims of such options. In some instances, the government offered potential victims the right to temporary residency in return for cooperation, but there was no referral system and, as a general rule, Baltic nationals were released without assistance, while Russians and others were deported. In a notable effort to improve, the government appointed a special rapporteur to analyze and provide recommendations for creating effective protection mechanisms for trafficking victims, and it withheld deporting the victims identified in police actions in the past year. The government funded the Nordic-Baltic Task Force on Trafficking in Persons to develop a specific regional protection and prevention initiative in Russia. Border guards were trained to identify organized prostitution crimes, and to offer women profiled in such a category the opportunity to speak out against their traffickers.


The government focused its prevention efforts on border control and profiling of potential victims at points of entry. The government co-sponsored a major conference on child trafficking in June and partially funded the new Nordic-Baltic Task Force. The Ministry for Social Affairs ran an anti-trafficking campaign focusing on demand-reduction. During the reporting period, the government provided funding from slot-machine revenues to NGOs for services such as a phone hotline for abused or battered women and a rape crisis center. Such programs provided the potential for outreach to at-risk groups.


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