Finland (Tier 1)
Finland is a transit and destination country for women and girls trafficked from Russia for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Women from China, Estonia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Thailand are also trafficked to and through Finland to Nordic and Western European countries for purposes of sexual exploitation. Finland is a destination country for men and women trafficked from the People's Republic of China, Vietnam, and India for purposes of forced labor; victims are exploited in the construction industry, restaurants, and as domestic servants. In 2006, South Asian men were trafficked through Finland to Western Europe for purposes of forced labor.
The Government of Finland fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government made appreciable progress over the last year, specifically through increased law enforcement efforts and continued victim identification and referrals to assistance programs. The inter-agency working group held its annual review of government anti-trafficking efforts. In June 2006, Finland amended its criminal code to hold clients criminally liable if they purchase sexual services from a person they know to be a trafficking victim. The government should provide specialized training to reception center psychologists and staff who have contact with victims. Finland should consider creating a formal witness protection program; in July, a victim was abducted prior to her scheduled testimony during her traffickers' trial. The government should also work more closely with source country governments when repatriating victims.
Finland continued to demonstrate vigorous law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Section 1899-39 of Finland's penal code prohibits all forms of trafficking. Related criminal statutes, such as kidnapping, pimping, and child rape, are also used to prosecute traffickers. The maximum penalty prescribed under Section 1899-39 is seven years' imprisonment; this is sufficiently stringent to deter trafficking and is commensurate with penalties prescribed for other grave crimes. During the reporting period, police conducted six trafficking investigations, up from five in 2005. Prosecutors successfully used Section 1899-39 for the first time to prosecute and convict seven traffickers for the sexual exploitation of 15 women from Estonia. In 2006, 10 traffickers were prosecuted – nine for sex trafficking and one for labor trafficking – a significant increase from four prosecutions in 2005. Moreover, 10 traffickers were convicted in 2006, up from four in 2005. Sentences imposed on convicted traffickers ranged from one to five years. No sentences were suspended. Finland worked closely with Estonian and Russian authorities to investigate and prosecute two trafficking cases.
Finland continued to improve its victim assistance over the last year. The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases and allowed victims to apply for temporary residency. The government provided the majority of funding for anti-trafficking NGOs. In 2006, the government began encouraging trafficking victims to stay in NGO shelters rather than government-run reception refugee centers. Law enforcement and social workers have mechanisms to identify and refer trafficking victims for necessary care. Victims identified by government authorities were not inappropriately penalized.
Finland maintained its strong trafficking prevention efforts both domestically and abroad. The government sustained its domestic demand reduction campaign targeted at Finns who travel abroad for sex tourism. Finland continued to provide extensive funding to NGO's and international organization's awareness-raising and prevention programs in five source countries. Authorities monitored immigration patterns and screened applicants at ports-of-entry for trafficking; during the reporting period, authorities concentrated efforts on the detection of Asian trafficking routes. This effort resulted in the successful conviction of a Bangladeshi who was convicted under Section 1899-39 for trafficking eight Bangladeshi nationals through Finland.