Finland (Tier 2)
Finland is a destination and transit country for women and girls trafficked primarily from Russia for the purpose of sexual exploitation. A smaller number of victims are trafficked from other former Soviet states including Estonia, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, and Georgia. Finnish authorities in 2004 reported Asian women trafficked to and through Finland by Chinese crime syndicates, facilitated by the advent of direct air routes with several major Asian cities. Finland is used as a transit point to other EU countries.
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 awareness of trafficking increased greatly in 2004, and Finland laid the groundwork for success with its new National Action Plan to combat trafficking. Unveiled on March 31, 2005, it incorporates comprehensive support services and protection for trafficking victims. To further its anti-trafficking efforts, Finland should convict and penalize traffickers under the August 2004 anti-trafficking law and consider new legislation to clearly define trafficking victims' rights.
Finland's efforts to improve its law enforcement response to trafficking increased in 2004. Finland enacted legislation in August 2004 criminalizing trafficking in persons. The law covers internal and external trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. It carries a maximum penalty of ten years and allows the Finnish police to use electronic surveillance techniques during investigations. While the Finnish courts had no trafficking prosecutions or convictions under the new anti-trafficking law, the police reported three investigations underway. The Finnish police maintained liaison officers in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia that assisted in trafficking investigations as needed. In 2004, the government extradited a Finnish national to Latvia who was convicted and sentenced to prison for trafficking.
While Finland continued to lack adequate trafficking victim assistance and protection during the reporting period, the Finnish Government's March 2005 National Action Plan to combat trafficking in persons takes a victim-centered approach; it creates a national assistance coordinator for trafficking victims and guarantees assistance to include temporary residence for victims, a witness protection program for victims and their families, legal and psychological counseling, health and education services, and the right to be employed and earn income while in Finland. The Finnish Government continued to offer in 2004 only limited assistance to trafficking victims. In certain instances potential victims received temporary residency permits in exchange for cooperation with law enforcement, but no system of referring victims to government or NGO shelters existed during the reporting period. Generally, in 2004, Finnish authorities continued to release Baltic nationals without assistance and to deport victims who are Russian nationals. In early 2005, prior to the Plan's public release, the government took action in a suspected case of trafficking involving a busload of several dozen women seeking entry into the Schengen area via Finland. Government agencies sheltered the women at a reception area while authorities interviewed the women and investigated the case.
The Finnish Government improved its trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. Finland announced its National Action Plan on trafficking; formal adoption is expected with no objections. Finland officially established its inter-ministerial anti-trafficking working group, and it met regularly. Finland provided a major grant to IOM in 2004 for a counter-trafficking project in Kosovo and Macedonia – one of the largest single grants to a nongovernmental organization ever made by Finland. Through a regional demand-reduction campaign, the government continued to distribute leaflets and posters in airports, harbors, and other ports-of-entry to raise trafficking awareness on the part of Finnish nationals going to red-light districts in other countries, such as Estonia. The government continued to conduct trafficking awareness campaigns in Finnish secondary schools. In 2004, the government co-hosted two major anti-trafficking conferences for NATO and the OSCE that generated increased media coverage of trafficking.