Head of state
Sauli Niinistö (replaced Tarja Halonen
Head of government
Jyrki Katainen

Asylum-seekers faced detention in unsuitable facilities. An investigation began into Finland’s involvement in the US-led rendition programme. Conscientious objectors to military service were imprisoned.

Migrants and asylum-seekers

At least 1,300 migrants and asylum-seekers were detained during the year. Over 65% were detained in police facilities with people facing criminal charges (contrary to international standards), without access to services, such as rehabilitation for victims of torture and education. An unaccompanied minor was held in the Metsälä Detention Centre for three months in the same facilities as adults and without access to education.

The asylum process still did not provide for an in-country suspensive right of appeal, increasing the risk of people being returned to countries where they might risk torture or other ill-treatment.

  • In August, a Chechen asylum-seeker was forcibly returned to Russia while his appeal was pending before the Supreme Administrative Court. An hour later, the UN Committee against Torture granted interim measures preventing his return, but the authorities removed him anyway.
Top of page

Violence against women and girls

In September, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights reported that violence against women continued to be a serious problem. Women and girls remained inadequately protected from rape and other forms of sexual violence. Rape continued to be categorized according to the degree of violence used or threatened by the perpetrator, and few cases reached court or concluded in a guilty verdict.

Top of page

Counter-terror and security

The Parliamentary Ombudsman of Finland started an investigation into the state’s complicity in the CIA rendition programme. The Ombudsman has the power to review classified information and to lay charges against any state actor who may have committed crimes in the course of official duties. In November, the Ombudsman sent detailed written requests for information to 15 government agencies. 

Top of page

International justice

On 30 April, the Helsinki Court of Appeals confirmed the conviction of François Bazaramba for crimes of genocide committed in Rwanda in 1994. On 22 October the Supreme Court dismissed François Bazaramba’s application for leave to appeal.

Top of page

Excessive use of force

  • On 26 May, a 30-year-old man died in custody at Vantaa police station, after police officers had used an electro-stun device on him. The incident was being investigated to assess whether his death was directly caused by the device.
  • In August, police in Miehikkälä used an electro-stun device against a 14-year-old boy, injuring his arm. An investigation into the incident was dropped by the state prosecutor.

Top of page

Prisoners of conscience

Conscientious objectors to military service continued to be imprisoned for refusing to perform the alternative civilian service, as it remains punitive and discriminatory in length.

Top of page

Jump to a Country Report


The deepening crisis in Mali in 2012 reflected many of the region’s deep-rooted problems. Across Africa, people’s l ...


The widespread human rights violations of the past, and the failure to hold those responsible to account, have cast a ...

Asia Pacific

In countries across Asia-Pacific, the simple act of publicly expressing one’s opinion – whether on the street ...

Europe and Central Asia

A rare example of the democratic transition of power for the former Soviet Union took place in the par ...

Middle East and North Africa

The popular uprisings that swept across North Africa and the Middle East from late 2010 continued ...

Amnesty International on social networks