|www.helsinginsanomat.fi/english||print | close window|
US report still sees Finland as country with human trafficking problems
An extensive Trafficking in Persons Report by the United States Department of State ranks Finland among countries which do not fully comply with minimum standards to fight human trafficking, but which are "making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards."
The report, which was made public on Friday, places Finland in "Tier 2", which it shares with a number of Asian and African countries with questionable reputations in this respect. Finland and Greece are the only two old member states of the European Union to fail to reach Tier 1 - countries whose governments fully comply with the standards.
Tier 2 countries also include Switzerland, Estonia, and Latvia. Lithuania has improved its record last year, and now ranks in Tier 1.
Greece’s ranking is an improvement from two years ago, when it was in Tier 3, comprising countries "whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so".
In that report, the section on Finland contained claims of prostitution camps operating in Finnish Lapland, inadequate legislation, insufficient funding, and poor training of police.
At the time, Finnish denied many of the claims. Minister of Justice Johannes Koskinen sought to rectify some of the information during a subsequent visit to Washington.
According to the latest report, the Finnish government’s "awareness of trafficking increased greatly in 2004, and Finland laid the groundwork for success with its new National Action Plan to combat trafficking".
The report also praises the Finnish action plan unveiled in late March, which tackles the trafficking problem from the victims’ perspective.
However, the report also notes that "Finnish authorities continued to release Baltic nationals without assistance, and to deport victims who are Russian nationals".
The report mentions the controversial incident in which a busload of women from Georgia trying to enter the Schengen zone through Finland were stopped at the Russian border. The women, who were sent back home, said that they were on a spring shopping trip.
The US State Department report also welcomes the law which came into effect in August, making human trafficking a crime, subject to a prison sentence of up to ten years.
The law has not led to charges being filed, but three cases are under police investigation. "To further its anti-trafficking efforts, Finland should convict and penalize traffickers under the August 2004 anti-trafficking law and consider new legislation to clearly define trafficking victims’ rights", the report says.