Summary: The government of Finland recently submitted a mid-term UPR report, which documented their implementation progress on recommendations they accepted during their review. CRIN has highlighted the government's response to children's rights recommendations accepted. What is a mid-term report? States are encouraged to voluntarily submit update reports on the steps they are taking to implement the recommendations made to them during their reviews.
What is a mid-term report?
States are encouraged to voluntarily submit update reports on the steps they are taking to implement the recommendations made to them during their reviews.
In addition to posting the full mid-term report (see above), CRIN has extracted the children's rights recommendations accepted by Finland, together with the government's response on how they are implementing the recommendations.
Implementation progress on accepted recommendations
The recommendations made to Finland during the consideration of its human rights situation by the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review in March 2008 were as follows-
To continue to take effective measures to prevent violence against women, and to compile information on the violence against children within the family
Combating manifestations of racism and xenophobia:
The Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social and Health have launched a project entitled Netari to carry out and enhance national youth work performed over the Internet. In this project, young people can meet youth workers in the two popular network environments among the young and discuss for instance with the police on the Internet. The project will be expanded. Since 2002, Save the Children Finland has maintained an Internet tip line (Nettivihje), where Internet users may report for example on encountered racist Internet material showing agitation against an ethnic group. The tip line is part of the Safer Internet Plus programme of the European Commission, intended to combat undesired and harmful content as well as illegal content on the Internet, to raise public awareness and to create a safer online environment for young people. The corresponding Internet Hotlines of different countries form a Europeanwide network entitled INHOPE, which is being enhanced continuously. In spring 2007, Save the Children Finland, Finnish Youth Co-operation Allianssi and the Finnish Red Cross launched a chat forum ("Different – Equal") in three network environments popular among young people. In autumn 2007, these organisations and the Ombudsman for Minorities organised a seminar dealing with the Internet as a problem and form of support for young people in relation to everyday racism. Among other subjects, the seminar discussed with providers of Internet services, i.e. website moderators, how to support young people encountering racism, how to intervene in racism on the Internet and whether the Internet could enable provision of easily accessible support services.
Ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and the ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries:
The Government is about to launch preparations for a programme to revive the Sámi language. The programme of work would involve charting the measures and programmes already being implemented, and its aim would be to intensify efforts to ensure the preservation and development of the Sámi language on a more comprehensive and long-term basis. Particular attention should be paid to the preservation of the small Sámi languages (Inari and Skolt Sami). From the point of view of the safeguarding of language rights, the focus should be on early childhood education, teaching, social welfare, and health care services, culture, the media and economic policy.
Reviewing the procedures regarding requests for asylum in the light of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol:
Under the asylum procedure applied in Finland, each application is considered individually. In the asylum procedure, asylum seekers are provided with such fundamental procedural guarantees as the right to use an interpreter and legal aid and the right to a personal interview. The interests of a minor without a guardian are ensured in the asylum procedure by a representative appointed by a district court. Applicants always have the right to appeal against decisions concerning residence permits and expulsion from the country affecting them.
Violence against women:
The extent of violence against women and domestic violence has been monitored by means of victim surveys. The first survey on female victims was carried out in 1997 and was repeated in 2005. It shows that there have been few changes in the extent of violence targeting women. According to the female victim survey of 2005, 43.5% of Finnish women aged 18-74 had been subjected to some form of physical or sexual violence by men or had been threatened with violence at least once after reaching the age of 15. The victim surveys of 1997 and 2005 indicate that there has been a decrease in serious physical domestic violence in recent years, from 1.8% in 1997 to 0.8% in 2005. The increase in cases of violence against women reported to the police is at least partially a result of more effective policing. The cases are tackled more effectively and more cases are reported. People have also become more aware of these offences and are more willing to report them.
An action programme for the prevention of domestic violence launched by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health was concluded at the end of 2007. The main aim of the programme was to improve the services available to the victims and perpetrators of violence and children and adolescents exposed to violence; these services should form part of the system of basic services. There are plans to incorporate the identification of violence and the tackling and prevention of the phenomenon into the basic services provided by municipalities, thus ensuring that every citizen affected by domestic violence can obtain help. After the conclusion of the programme, more than half of Finnish municipalities have drawn up an action programme for preventing domestic violence, and most municipalities have appointed a liaison for domestic violence. Model procedures and other tools allowing the matter to be discussed with those affected have been prepared for professionals to facilitate their intervention in a situation of violence. At the conclusion of the action programme, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Association of Finnish Regional and Local Authorities issued joint recommendations for preventing domestic violence, aimed at the guidance and management of health services at local and regional level. The recommendations will be assessed on a nationwide basis during 2011.
The new cross-administrative Internal Security Programme for 2008-2011 lays down the objectives, main development areas and concrete measures for reducing violence. The programme focuses on the reduction of domestic violence (particularly violence targeting women) and violence against children. From the point of view of violence targeting women, the central measures of the programme include extending the network of shelters and the hotline of Victim Support Finland to cover the whole country and providing a free 24-hour hotline for crime victims.
Finland’s penal code is characterised by the fact that its penal provisions are of a general nature, which means that the gender of the victim is irrelevant when the punishability of an act is prescribed. The provisions on homicide and bodily harm are contained in Chapter 21 of the Penal Code, which among other things contains penal provisions on assault (section 5) and aggravated assault (section 6). Under the provisions on sentencing laid down in Chapter 6 of the Penal Code, the punishment can be increased if, for example, the assault targets a person who is in a weaker position than the perpetrator or otherwise not in a position to properly defend himself/herself (violence against women or children and/or repeated assaults).
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and disability; use of the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity as a guide to assist in policy development:
In Finland, members of gender and sexual minorities face discrimination in the same areas as other groups affected by discrimination: in education/educational institutions, in working life, in services and in leisure activities. Judging from the attitudes prevailing in schools, young people belonging to sexual minorities are at greater risk of being bullied than others. In the past few years, a number of cases have highlighted discrimination based on sexual orientation in working life. According to non- governmental organisations, there have been cases in which an employee has been dismissed after his/her sexual orientation has become known. Sexual orientation may also be a factor in recruiting situations, in attitudes towards granting parental leave to people in registered partnerships, in pay- related matters, in career promotion, in access to education and information and in the attitudes of co-workers and supervisors. Jokes about homosexuals are fairly common at many workplaces and can cause discomfort or may even be interpreted as harassment by those workers who belong to sexual minorities. Members of gender and sexual minorities often conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity at the workplace and keep quiet about their rights if the expression of negative attitudes is tolerated.
Same-sex couples who have registered their partnership do not have the same opportunities to adopt children as do married couples. They may not adopt a child as a couple. On 15 May 2009, the Parliament approved an act amending section 9 of the Act on Registered Partnerships. Under the amendment, a partner in a registered partnership may adopt a child of the other partner. After an adoption within the family, the child is considered to be a joint child of the registered couple. The prerequisites for an adoption within the family, the procedure to be followed in the adoption and the legal impacts of the adoption will be in accordance with the existing provisions of the Adoption Act of 1985. The amendment will improve the legal status of children living in the families of registered couples and places registered couples in a more equal position vis-à-vis married couples.
Provisions on the right to parental allowance of those living in a partnership that is in accordance with the Act on Registered Partnerships (950/2001) are contained in Chapter 9, section 16 of the Sickness Insurance Act. In these cases, too, the right of the child’s parent to parental allowance is in accordance with Chapter 9, section 8 of the Sickness Insurance Act. There are restrictions to the rights of the spouse of the child’s parent to parental allowance. He/she is only entitled to parental allowance if his/her spouse has given birth to a child or adopted a child under seven years of age after the registration of the partnership and the spouses live in the same household. Following the amendments to section 9 of the Act on Registered Partnerships, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will examine whether any amendments are required to the provisions governing parental allowance.