[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

FINLAND (TIER 1)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009]

Finland is a transit and destination country for women and girls trafficked from Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, the Caucasus, China, and Thailand to and through Finland to France, Sweden, Italy, Canada, Spain, and the United States for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Finland is a destination country for men and women trafficked from China, 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. In June 2008, the government formally updated its 2005 National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings; the new plan outlined various goals including developing support programs for repatriated victims and enhancing victim identification and referral training for law enforcement personnel, teachers, social workers, medical personnel, and others who may have contact with victims of trafficking. In January 2009, the government designated Finland’s Ombudsman for Minorities to serve as the national coordinator on trafficking in persons in order to better gauge the scope of the trafficking problem within Finland and to assess the government’s anti-trafficking progress.

Recommendations for Finland: Continue training sessions for prosecutors and judges on trafficking cases; improve the collection of anti-trafficking law enforcement data, including the number of investigations, prosecutions, convictions, and sentences given to convicted traffickers; and continue vigorously identifying and referring victims of trafficking for assistance.

Finland sustained its solid law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Law 1889-39 of the Finnish penal code prohibits all severe forms of trafficking and prescribes six years’ imprisonment for convicted offenders, a penalty that is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. Related criminal statutes, such as kidnapping, procuring for prostitution, and child rape may also be used to prosecute traffickers. During the reporting period, police conducted nine trafficking investigations, compared to 10 in 2007. In 2008, authorities prosecuted at least seven individuals for sex trafficking offenses and two for labor trafficking compared to 10 prosecutions for sex trafficking in 2007. In 2008, nine individuals were convicted for trafficking offenses– including two for labor trafficking -- up from three in 2007. Seven convicted traffickers served time in prison; trafficking sentences ranged from nine to 66 months’ imprisonment. Law enforcement officials worked with counterparts from Estonia, Sweden, and Russia on approximately 10 trafficking cases in 2008. The government extradited one non-Finnish citizen to another EU country on trafficking charges.

The Finnish government maintained its significant victim assistance efforts during the reporting period. It continued to provide direct shelter, rehabilitative assistance, and medical care to victims in addition to its provision of funding for NGO-run shelters. In 2008, law enforcement officials referred 13 victims to NGOs and government-run assistance centers; this is an increase from nine victims assisted in 2007. The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders and allowed victims to apply for temporary residency. The government did not penalize victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Police and Border Guard officials use a series of written guidelines on victim treatment and referral developed by the Finnish Immigration Service.

The government continued its trafficking awareness efforts in 2008. The government continued its demand reduction campaign targeted at Finns who travel abroad for sex tourism; the government again distributed brochures to thousands of visitors at a major annual travel fair warning that sex tourism is a crime. Authorities monitored immigration patterns and screened for trafficked trafficking applicants at ports of entry. Finnish troops deployed on international peacekeeping missions received intensive anti-trafficking training aimed at providing deployed forces with the ability to identify potential trafficking victims; there were no trafficking related cases involving Finnish troops or government personnel deployed overseas in 2008.