FINLAND (Tier 1)
Finland is a transit and destination country for women trafficked from Russia, China, Estonia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, the Caucasus, Lithuania, Latvia, and Thailand to and through Finland to Sweden and other Western European countries for the purpose of sexual exploitation. During the reporting period, a small number of Russian boys were identified by authorities as trafficking victims while transiting through Finland to Sweden. Finland is a destination country for men and women trafficked from China, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh for the purpose of forced labor; victims are exploited in the construction industry, restaurants, and as domestic servants.
The Government of Finland fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to make appreciable progress over the last year, most notably in its victim assistance and prevention work both domestically and abroad. In April 2007, the government issued its first residency permit to a victim of trafficking; Finland's Aliens Act was amended in 2006 to allow trafficking victims to remain within the country indefinitely and to qualify for unrestricted employment rights. Finland provided generous funding for NGOs implementing victim assistance and prevention projects in significant source countries totaling nearly $600,000 in 2007.
Recommendations for Finland: Improve gathering of victim assistance statistics, including the number of victims assisted by reception centers on an annual basis; continue training sessions for prosecutors and judges to increase use of section 1899-39 of the penal code; consider creating a formal witness protection program; continue improving victim repatriation efforts through collaboration with source country governments; and designate a single agency to collect anti-trafficking law enforcement data, including the number of investigations, prosecutions, convictions, and sentences given to convicted traffickers.
Finland demonstrated adequate law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Section 1899-39 of Finland's penal code prohibits all severe forms of trafficking and prescribes seven years' imprisonment for those convicted, a penalty that is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. Related criminal statutes, such as kidnapping, pimping, and child rape, may also be used to prosecute traffickers. During the reporting period, police conducted 10 trafficking investigations, up from six in 2006. In 2007, 10 traffickers were prosecuted for sex trafficking compared to 10 sex trafficking prosecutions and one labor trafficking prosecution reported in 2006. Three traffickers were convicted in 2007 using non-trafficking statutes, down from 10 convictions in 2006. Two of the three convicted traffickers served some time in prison; one trafficker was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment, one trafficker was sentenced to eight months' imprisonment, and one convicted trafficker was given a suspended sentence and served no time in prison. In October 2007, the government trained 200 law enforcement personnel and prosecutors on trafficking detection and investigation.
Finland sustained its strong victim assistance efforts over the last year. The government continued to provide direct shelter, rehabilitative assistance, and medical care to victims in addition to providing the majority of funding for anti-trafficking NGOs active in Finland. Nine victims were assisted by government-run assistance centers during the reporting period. The government also funded a series of NGO-operated hotlines for victim assistance and referral. The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases and allowed victims to apply for temporary residency; one victim received a residency permit in 2007. Victims identified by government authorities were not inappropriately penalized.
Finland continued its strong trafficking prevention efforts both domestically and abroad. In 2007, the government provided $260,000 to UNODC for an anti-trafficking and awareness project in Uzbekistan. The Border Guard and police have formal procedures for victim identification among vulnerable populations such as unaccompanied minors traveling on international flights and immigrant labor in the construction and restaurant industries. State-owned Finnair airline provided all new flight attendants as part of new employee orientation with information on how to identify and report potential trafficking victims, particularly children and unaccompanied minors on international flights; Finnair statistics indicate a consistent refusal to board passengers suspected of trafficking. The government continued its demand reduction campaign targeted at Finns who travel abroad for sex tourism; the government distributed brochures to thousands of visitors at a major annual travel fair warning that sex tourism is a crime. Finland's law provides for the extraterritorial prosecution of Finnish citizens engaged in child sex tourism, though there were no known cases prosecuted during the reporting period. Authorities monitored immigration patterns and screened for trafficking applicants at ports-of-entry. Finnish troops deployed on international peacekeeping missions received intensive anti-trafficking training; there were no trafficking related cases involving Finnish troops or government personnel deployed overseas in 2007.