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Finland 2022

Protests blocking streets were regularly dispersed. Climate action was insufficient. A new law on sexual violence was enacted and reform of the law on legal gender recognition was presented to parliament. Legislation allowing the hindrance of the right to seek asylum was adopted. A bill protecting the rights of the Sámi people was introduced.

Freedom of assembly

Police regularly dispersed demonstrations blocking streets and disrupting traffic, failing to recognize that these acts of civil disobedience should not be dispersed purely because they caused disruption. There was a lack of training and guidance about policing protests. In August, Stockholm police detained and deported six Finnish climate activists on their way to join a peaceful climate action, allegedly based on vague information from the Finnish police.1

Failure to tackle climate crisis

In July, Finland amended the Climate Change Act, setting a target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. Concerns were raised about the adequacy of planned measures and resources for their implementation.2

Violence against women and girls

In June, new legislation amended the definition of rape to align with human rights standards, based on lack of consent assessed in the surrounding circumstances. In certain cases, when there is abuse of a position of authority, the crime continues to be defined as sexual abuse not rape.

New sexual assault support centres were established, bringing the total to 21.3

LGBTI people’s rights

In September, the government introduced a bill to make legal gender recognition available to adults upon written application. While the new law would abolish the requirements of forced infertility and psychiatric diagnosis, it would introduce a mandatory period of reflection for applicants and would not include a gender recognition system for minors.

Refugees’ and migrants’ rights

In July, amendments to the Border Guard Act enabled the reception of asylum applications to be centralized at a separately designated crossing point, meaning that the eastern border with Russia could be closed to asylum seekers. The amendments included the possibility of building barriers in the border zone and the government started building a fence along parts of the eastern border. This could impede asylum seekers’ access to territory to apply for international protection and result in forced returns in violation of the principle of non-refoulement. In June, the government presented a bill introducing border procedures that included holding asylum seekers in supervised facilities at the border, from which they would not be allowed to leave. This would severely limit their freedom of movement, amounting to de facto detention.

During the year, over 45,000 temporary protection permits were granted to people fleeing conflict in Ukraine. Protection was granted to all Ukrainians irrespective of their time of arrival.

Indigenous people’s rights

In November, the government introduced a bill to reform the Act on the Sámi Parliament to enhance the protection of the rights of Sámi people.

  1. “Open letter to the Stockholm Police by Amnesty International Finnish and Swedish sections”, 31 August (Finnish and Swedish only)
  2. Finland: Time to Address Remaining Gaps in Human Rights Protection: Amnesty International Submission for the 41st Session of the UPR Working Group, 7-18 November 2022, 31 March
  3. Finland: Submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: 83rd session, 10-28 October 2022, 27 September