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Finland 2023

Public healthcare services were inadequately resourced. A new law made abortion available on request up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. The government introduced cuts to social security. There were inconsistencies in the policing of protests. Measures to phase out fossil fuels remained inadequate. Legal gender recognition became available to transgender adults but not children and adolescents. The government announced plans to tighten immigration policies.

Right to health

Inadequate provision in public primary healthcare meant that people reliant on it faced barriers to accessing services, while those with access to occupational and private healthcare systems did not face similar obstacles.1

In June, the government announced plans to seek significant savings from public healthcare funding. The government also announced that it would raise healthcare user fees and tax on medicines.2

The government proposed removing the right to necessary healthcare from people residing in Finland without legal status.

In September, a law entered into force allowing abortion upon request in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Right to social security

In December, the parliament adopted significant and widespread cuts to social security. According to legislative proposals, the government expected an increased risk of eviction and food insecurity as a result. The cuts were predicted to affect many already at-risk groups, including women, migrants, people with disabilities and families with children.

Freedom of assembly

Police dispersed a number of protests that were disrupting traffic. There were regional inconsistencies in the policing of protests. Police failed to protect protesters, including from aggressive driving, in Kuusankoski and Jyväskylä in May and August, respectively.

In February, police unlawfully prohibited filming during a protest in Aalistunturi and in front of the Turkish embassy in Helsinki, where a photojournalist was detained and his camera memory card confiscated. In August, at least one protester was arbitrarily detained in Jyväskylä.

Right to a healthy environment

Measures to equitably phase out fossil fuels and to conserve and enhance forests and other carbon sinks remained inadequate to achieve the government’s aim of carbon neutrality by 2035. Biodiversity continued to decline because of intensive forestry and other land use. Finland increased climate finance to developing countries.

LGBTI people’s rights

In April, a law came into force making legal gender recognition available to transgender adults upon written application. No system was introduced for children and adolescents.3 In November, civil society groups criticized the government for the lack of specific measures to advance LGBTI rights; discrimination against trans and intersex people remained widespread.

Refugees’ and migrants’ rights

The 2023 government programme confirmed extensive support to Ukrainian refugees. At the same time, it introduced plans to tighten immigration and asylum policies, including for people seeking protection from other parts of the world. These included making international protection temporary, preventing asylum seekers from applying for work-based residence permits, increasing the use of immigration detention, and tightening requirements for family reunification, permanent residency and citizenship.

Problems with submitting asylum claims were reported, particularly by people who had obtained residence permits on other grounds.

Claiming to act in response to an alleged attempt by Russia to “instrumentalize” migration movements, in November the government gradually closed all crossing points at the Russian border and they remained closed at the end of the year.

Indigenous Peoples’ rights

In December, the government introduced a bill to reform the Act on the Sámi Parliament to enhance the protection of the rights of Sámi people. The proposal was the fourth attempt to reform the law, following failures during three previous government terms.

  1. “Finland: ‘I know I won’t get help’: Inequality of healthcare in Finland”, 13 June
  2. “Finland: Submission to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 74th Session, 25 September – 13 October 2023, Follow-up”, 23 August
  3. “Finland: New gender recognition law ‘a major step towards protecting trans rights’”, 1 February