Amnesty International cites (again) Finland’s human rights violations against refugee, migrant and transgender rights

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Amnesty International criticized Finland in a 2014-15 country report on human rights violations for its treatment of asylum seekers, migrants, transgender people and conscientious objectors, according to YLE in English. It said that police inaction agains women and girls was another cause for concern. 

Should we be surprised? Not really. Finland has had a poor human rights track record with asylum seekers, migrants and conscientious objectors.

It wasn’t too long ago when Finland returned Soviet citizens who asked for asylum to the former USSR.

After over 20 years of searching, Migrant Tales made contact with Aleksandr Shatravka in 2009 thanks to this blog.

One of the saddest cases that Amnesty International documented was that of Vyacheslav N. Cherapanov, who was forcibly returned in July 1980 to the USSR after he had allegedly been beaten by Finnish police in Ilomantsi. This was done after Finland had pledged to respect the human rights of asylum seekers after it hosted and signed the Helsinki Accords of 1975.

The human rights situation under Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen has deteriorated. Amnesty International had launched a petition against the imprisonment of asylum seekers who are children.

According to Amnesty International, the government of Finland promised in 2011 to forbid the detention of unaccompanied children and to develop alternatives to detention. The promise was written in the government’s program, but it has not been fulfilled. Alternatives to detention have not yet been developed and children are still detained.

Näyttökuva 2015-2-27 kello 7.39.32
Read full report here.

Writes Yle in English:

A new addition this year to the [Amnesty International] list of complaints concerning Finland was discrimination against transgender individuals. AI says that the law on obtaining legal gender recognition is too onerous, requiring lengthy medical studies, sterilisation or a mental disorder diagnosis, and proof of single status.

Female residents of Finland, meanwhile, are all too often subject to sexual violence, according to the report. It cites a 2014 survey by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, which indicates that nearly half of women in the country had experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15. However only one in 10 victims has contacted police, even in serious cases of violence.

Some Finns are still scratching their heads about the surge of intolerance in Finland and why an anti-immigration party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* became the country’s third-largest in parliament in 2011.

As long as Finland does little to nothing to improve the human rights of groups like asylum seekers, migrants, transgender people and women, it continues to fuel a climate of intolerance that has been with us for decades.

* The English name of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) is officially the Finns Party. The names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.