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FINLAND 2020

Refugee family reunification remained difficult due to legislative and practical obstacles. Intimate partner violence against women increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many social security benefits remained inadequate.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

In March, the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman published a family reunification study on children who were granted international protection. In almost half of the 66 cases, the justifications for denying reunification were severely restrictive and the process, and outcomes, put children’s rights at risk. Legislative and practical obstacles, including high income requirements, continued to impede family reunification.

Finland continued to detain some unaccompanied children, and families with children, based on their immigration status. Legal changes introduced in 2016 and 2019 continued to place asylum-seekers at risk of refoulement (return to a country where there is real risk of persecution).

Excessive use of force

In February, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a police officer for excessive use of force. The officer had used a Taser unannounced on a man who refused to lie down in 2015. Also in February, a district court convicted a police officer for the violation of official duties in 2018 when using a Taser on an intoxicated woman. In September, a police officer was convicted of aggravated assault and breaching official duties for using excessive force on a handcuffed man, who had to be resuscitated, in police detention in 2019.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people

In February, a working group published its proposal to reform legislation to increase the protection of the rights of those seeking legal gender recognition.

Violence against women and girls

In February, June and December, new Sexual Assault Support Centres opened in Oulu, Pori and Rovaniemi.

In July, a working group published its recommendations aimed at aligning rape legislation with international standards.

Between January and June, under COVID-19 restrictions, reports of intimate partner violence against women and the number of individuals seeking support increased significantly.

In October, a government programme combatting violence against women was launched.

Right to privacy

In June, the Intelligence Ombudsman submitted its first annual report. It noted that public oversight of the use of surveillance was complicated due to the lack of detail in the applications presented to the court as well as in the surveillance decisions made by the authorities.

Conscientious objectors

By the end of the year, 33 conscientious objectors who had been acquitted by the courts had refused non-military service for the second time. At least 19 of them were subsequently convicted and given custodial sentences of up to nearly six months which, in most cases, meant electronic monitoring. The length of the civilian alternative to military service remained punitive and discriminatory, at more than double the shortest period of military service.

Right to social security

Many social security benefits remained below that required by the European Social Charter, despite minor improvements to some provision levels. In March and September, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some further improvements to social security coverage and benefit levels were made, but only on a temporary basis.

Indigenous Sámi People

Finland still failed to ratify International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169, which would improve the monitoring of the rights of the Indigenous Sámi people.