Hundreds of human trafficking victims pass through Finland each year
Children also involved
Hundreds of victims of human trafficking are believed to pass through Finland each year. According to the findings of a working group of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, some of the victims are children. On Thursday the working group presented a national plan of action against human trafficking.
The working group found that Finnish territory is used for transporting people to countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the United States, and Canada. The victims usually end up working in the sex trade, or in other undocumented labour.
"Human rights reports from the United States have pointed at Finland with some justification", says Major Ilkka Herranen of the Finnish Frontier Guard.
With its present actions Finland wants to communicate that it is not a country of transit for human trafficking", said Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja (SDP).
"We want to give a signal that there is awareness of human trafficking in Finland, and that immediate action is taken on suspected cases."
In Tuomioja's view, publicity often has a preventative effect.
Herranen said that in addition to identifying the victims and helping them, it is important to take action against the organisations that are involved in the human trafficking.
"Recognition is made more difficult by the fact that the victims themselves do not necessarily know that they are victims of human trafficking.", Major Herranen said.
The threshold for taking action should be low, said Johanna Suurpää, the chair of the committee.
The proposal of the working group came out coincidentally in the midst of a hot debate on human trafficking, related to the case of the 48 Georgian women who were recently refused entry into Finland, even though they had valid Schengen visas issued by Sweden.
Foreign Minister Tuomioja was also asked to comment on the fresh case of the Georgian women.
"It was right to take action, because there had been information of human trafficking in Georgia", Tuomioja said.
"I have no knowledge that any wrongdoing had occurred. On the other hand, this is not my field."
The legality of the refusal of entry to the Georgian women will be decided by Kouvola Administrative court, probably by the end of the year. On Thursday the court rejected an application to void the implementation of decision.
The women filed their application on Monday last week, a day before they were flown to Georgia.
The women also plan to apply for compensation from Finland.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Suspicions of human trafficking stigmatise Georgian women (30.3.2005)
Russian officials surprised at reports of human trafficking (16.3.2005)
Finland found to be transit point for traffic in women from east to west (11.3.2005)
Minister of Justice Koskinen rejects U.S. claims of trade in women (16.10.2003)
U.S. report on human trafficking shows Finland in a poor light (13.6.2003)