Human rights in Finland
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Human rights in Finland are acknowledged as generally respected by the government. The freedom of speech, religion, association and assembly are upheld in law and in practice. However, there are concerns in some areas, such as asylum-seekers faced detention in unsuitable facilities, involvement in the CIA rendition programme, the imprisonment of objectors to military service, and societal discrimination against Romani people and members of other ethnic and linguistic minorities.
Finland is ranked top or above-average in democracy, press freedom, and human development. The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. Individuals are guaranteed basic rights under the constitution, legislative acts, and treaties relating to human rights ratified by the Finnish government.
- 1 Independence
- 2 Justice system
- 3 Elections and civil contribution
- 4 Equality
- 5 Military service and civilian service
- 6 Migrant workers in Finland
- 7 International
- 8 Cases
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Finland declared independent December 6, 1917. Earlier Finland was an autonomous part of Russia (1809–1917) or part of Sweden (1253–1808).
Independent Finland has never had the death penalty in its criminal law in peacetime. (The last execution in peacetime was in 1825.) The last wartime executions were carried out in 1944. Finland supported the international proposal to abolish the capital punishment in the world.
Search and seizure
Finnish police was criticised by the Parliamentary Deputy-Ombudsman for improper search and seizure procedures. European Court of Human Rights has leveled similar criticism. Unlike in many other countries, no search warrant issued by a court is needed to conduct search and seizure.
Elections and civil contribution
Two general referendums has taken place since Finnish Declaration of Independence in 6 December 1917 to 2013: Finnish European Union membership referendum, 1994 and Finnish prohibition referendum, 1931. The joining in the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union was not asked from Finnish citizens as in Sweden (not member based on no citizen support). The membership referendum info material (1994) claimed the own Finnish currency to remain.
European council recommends for its member states the direct citizen election of mayor / city manager. This is place e.g. in Germany, France and the USA. Finland has a peculiar system with no direct election power of the citizens. In Finland, mayors are elected by the city council, not directly by citizens.
Citizens may ask the parliament to consider bills through citizens' initiatives. This legislation has been in place since 2012. Some Finnish Parliamentarians were unwilling to give adequate considerations to civil initiatives in March 2013. Civil contribution is part of the EU legislation and thus its fulfillment will be controlled by European Court of Justice.
The first citizens' initiative to gain enough signatures was the ban of fur farming. Some 70,000 citizens signed it within the required time period. The second initiative for the equal marriage for all adults gathered the minimum demand of 50,000 supporters within a couple of hours. The right to same-sex marriage initiative will proceed to Parliament in September 2013.
First women priests were inaugurated in Finland on 6 March 1988. First woman bishop was elected in 2010.
Finland was the first country in the world where women could both vote in and stand for parliamentary election, in 1907. The first female government minister was Miina Sillanpää, who served as the II Minister for Social Affairs in 1926–27. President Tarja Halonen (in office 2000-2012) is the first female president in Finnish history. The average wages of women of equal work are less than for men today (2011). In the leading positions there are more men than women in Finland (2011). Several studies have shown that women leaders have obtained better profit than men leaders in the business in Finland.
According to the Amnesty International director Frank Johansson the violence against women in Finland should be reduced. Every year 15–20 Finnish women die in violence of their husband or ex-husband. The problem should be recognized and the support services expanded.
The first women director of a post office was Charlotta Backman in Porvoo in 1878. Ms. Vera Hjält (1857–1947) started a factory for her patented carpenter bench in 1886. Since 1903 she was the first woman in Finland as trade inspector solving work strikes and disputes including the women discrimination at work, and worked later as the Member of Parliament for ten years. Tekla Hultin (born 1864) was the first woman doctorate from the University of Helsinki (then Helsingin Keisarillinen Aleksanterin yliopisto), studied in Russia and France and was the Member of Parliament for 15 years. Tekla’s mother wanted to study also, but she was not able to do it before her father’s death based on resistance from her father. Thus, the human rights are subject to not only in law but also the common attitudes in the societies. Finnish women had to apply exemption based on their sex for the state jobs until 1926. The complete equality took place not until in 1975.
Finnish women can inherit and own property. Aurora Karamzin (1808–1902) inherited her ex-husband Russian Paul Demidov. After the death of her second husband Andrei Karamzin Aurora Karamzin took care of the large land and industry property by herself. At the time, when serfdom still existed in Russia until 1861 and Finland had no independence from Russia before 1917, this Finnish origin woman Aurora Karamzin made social security work in Finland and Russia, including education, medical aid and founding the still existing Helsingin Diakonissalaitos in 1867. The Finnish famine of 1866–1868 killed 15% of the population.
Gender equality at work
The UN Human Rights Committee has expressed concern about gender inequality in Finnish working life.
Men receive 8% higher salaries than women of the same work in Finland in 2013. Employers provide more training for men, while women apply for training in greater numbers.
Companies with more than 30 employees have to make a gender equality plan to ensure fair treatment of sexes at workplace. As stated in August 2013 many companies neglect to obey the Finnish law. Further the Finland's Ombudsman for Equality lacks personnel resources to enforce the law.
Research data about the number and backgrounds of teen prostitutes is completely non-existent in Finland. Buying or attempting to buy sex from a minor is a crime in Finland and legal responsibility for the deed always lies with the buyer.
|This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (March 2013)|
This has repeatedly been criticised, e.g. in October 2011. The United Nations human rights committee asked to cancel the aimed slaughter of reindeers in Nellime Ivalo in October 2011. Without this appeal it would have taken place in the first week of October. Finland has 6 months time to answer the UN. The reindeer owners and Forest Administration (Metsähallitus) have a long dispute in the area of the forests.
Military service and civilian service
Finland has compulsory military service. Mandatory options of civilian or military service were of unequal duration: civilian service 13 months, or one month longer than the longest conscript service (conscript officers and Non-commissioned officers and certain specialists such as certain vehicle operators), 12 months, and 5 months longer than the average service in army, 8 months. Rebuttal of criticism of the length of civilian service often point out that whereas conscripts are often on duty around the clock (especially in the field), civilian servicemen often only work during office hours. However, an act enacted in 2008 changed civilian service to 12 months. Some 25% of conscripts serve 12 months, with the large majority serving 6 months.
Arms trade to undemocratic countries
Finland granted arms export licenses to 25 countries in 2011 that are troublesome by the EU criteria.
€100 million weapon exports of Finnish manufacturer Patria to Saudi Arabia was the third largest weapons export deal of the 2000s. Saudi Arabia is undemocratic country with no parliament and the autocratic government run by the Saudi royal family. Political parties and trade unions are banned. Freedom of assembly and freedom of association does not exist Relationship to Saudi Arabia sent troops against Bahraini pro-democracy demonstrations.The Ministry of Defence granted licenses to export sniper rifles and ammunition in October 2011 in Kazakhstan. There is no press freedom in Kazakhstan and there are indications of human rights violations.
Migrant workers in Finland
As of 2011, Finland had not signed the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
Police estimate the annual loss of taxes to the Finnish state by the misuse of migrant workers as 600–700 million euros. The misuse of migrant workers has been more and more frequently in the courts and news in past years. Several Estonian migrant workers have worked without written agreements, without social security and endured long days without a minimum wage as required by law. According to Helsingin Sanomat, many Estonians are not paid at all. In December 2011, a Chinese restaurant in Ideapark Lempäälä was judged to pay 298,000 € for migrant work losses in tax, wages and penalties.
The Minister of Labour Lauri Ihalainen called for fair play in the labour market in January 2013. He draw attention to underpaid foreign workers and zero contracts of work that undermine employment security or other workers’ rights.
Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant construction project
Polish migrant workers of Elektrobudowa had an unpaid wages and trade union membership dispute in November 2011. The trade unions took the case to court on behalf of union members. Thirty-two people were fired for joining the trade union "Sähköliitto". The Finnish trade union leaders were most concerned about the common labor rights and civil rights of all workers in Finland.
|It has been suggested that portions of this section be moved into Human rights in Russia. (Discuss)|
On September 18 2013, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise took peaceful action at Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform to stop it from producing the world’s first oil from Arctic waters. A Finnish Greenpeace activist was arrested by Russian authorities in September 2013. President Sauli Niinistö does not let the case to influence in the trade relationship between Finland and Russia. The Netherlands launched legal action to free 30 Greenpeace activists charged in Russia with piracy. Arctic Sunrise is Dutch-flagged ship. Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said the Netherlands had applied to the UN's Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which resolves maritime disputes between states. The Netherlands view the ship's detention as unlawful.
The US human rights organisation Open Society Foundations published in January 2013 details of alleged secret CIA flights that operated via Finland, and ca 50 other countries. Amnesty has critizised Finland for the alleged flights.
- "Freedom in the World 2013: Finland". Freedom House. 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- "Annual Report 2013: Finland". Amnesty International. 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
- "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012: Finland". U.S. State of Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. 2012. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
- "Scores of the Democracy Ranking 2012". Global Democracy Ranking. 2012. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
- "Freedom of the Press: Finland". Freedom House. 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
- "Statistics of the Human Development Report". United Nations Development Programme. 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
- Tausta Matti Mielonen: Suomen kuntajohtajat ”kummajaisia”.sivu A4 Artikkelisarjassa: Pormestarin valinta nousemassa teemaksi lokakuun kuntavaaleissa, Helsingin Sanomat 8.8.2008 A4
- Kuntalaki 24 §
- Parliament mulls how to deal with citizens’ initiatives yle 13.3.2013
- Gay marriage initiative proceeds to Parliament with 162,000 backers Yle 19.9.2013
- Finnish church marks 25 years of women priests yle 11.3.2013
- Espoon surmien ytimestä paljastuu naisiin kohdistuva väkivalta, HS 11.1.2010 C5, toiminnanjohtaja Frank Johansson Amnesty International (Finnish)
- Kaari Utrio, Kalevan tyttäret Suomalaisen naisen tarina, Amanita 1987 (Finnish)
- Finland lags behind in business world equality for women yle 14.8.2013
- Gender wage gap persists
- Equality of sexes poorly enforced at workplaces yle 15.8.2013
- Amnesty International Annual Report 2011 page 372-273
- Helsinki ei hyväksy lasten kerjäämistä 5.4.2012
- Teen prostitution a silent problem in Finland Yle News 3.6.2013 15
- Finland last to sign indigenous rights treaty? yle8.2.2013
- YK pyysi säästämään Nellimen porot HS 27.9.2011 A6
- Finland grants arms deals to human rights violators yle 20.3.2013
- Virolaisilta huijataan palkkoja Suomessa, Helsingin Sanomat 3.4.2012 A4
- HS 13.12.2011 A9
- Minister compares underpaying foreigners to slave trade yle 4.2.2013
- Ammattiliittojen työmaan saarto peruuntui viime hetkellä Kansan Uutiset 18.11.2011
- Puolalaisille hyvitys, Olkiluodon saarto peruuntui, Sovinnosta huolimatta kolmen miljoonan palkkakiista on vielä auki Kansan Uutiset 2.11.2012
- Sähköliitto: Olkiluodossa irtisanottu liittoon kuulumisen vuoksi Turun Sanomat 18.11.2011
- Finland pressing for more EU human rights powers yle
- Greenpeace International responds to allegations from Russian authorities Greenpeace September 22, 2013
- Finnish Greenpeace activist held in Russian jail yle26.9.2013
- Niinistö: Greenpeace halusi julkisuutta rikkomalla lakia HS 3.10.2013 A24
- Dutch take legal action over Greenpeace ship in Russia BBC 4 October 2013
- Report details alleged CIA stopovers in Helsinki yle 6.2.2013
- Homepage of the Parliamentary Ombudsman for Human Rights.
- Human Rights and Finnish Foreign Policy.
- Archive of Finland reports at Amnesty International.
- Archive of Finland reports at Human Rights Watch.
- 2005 Finland report of Freedom House.
- 2004 World Press Freedom Review, published by the International Press Institute
- Homepage of the Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University.
- The Finnish League for Human Rights
- Censorship cases in Finland – IFEX
- Review of Finland by the United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review, April 9, 2008
U.S. State Department Annual Reports
- Religious Freedom Report 2005
- Religious Freedom Report 2004
- Religious Freedom Report 2003
- Religious Freedom Report 2002
- Religious Freedom Report 2001
- Religious Freedom Report 2000
- Religious Freedom Report 1999
- Human Rights Report 2004
- Human Rights Report 2003
- Human Rights Report 2002
- Human Rights Report 2001
- Human Rights Report 2000
- Human Rights Report 1999