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TITLE: FINLAND HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE: FEBRUARY 1995









                            FINLAND


Finland is a constitutional republic with an elected head of 
state (president), parliament, and head of government (prime 
minister), and with an independent judiciary.

The security apparatus is effectively controlled by elected 
officials and supervised by the courts.

Finland has a mixed economy, primarily and extensively 
market-based.

During 1994 there were no reported violations of fundamental 
human rights.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial 
killings.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reported cases of disappearances.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The law provides for freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, 
or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Government fully 
respects these provisions.  By law, prisoners must be treated 
justly and with respect for their dignity, without distinction 
on the basis of race, sex, language, nationality, religious or 
political conviction, social position, wealth, or any other 
unfair grounds.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The law provides for freedom from arbitrary arrest, and the 
Government fully respects this provision.  Police may hold a suspect without charge for up to 7 days.  From the start the suspect has access to a lawyer of his or her choosing; the 
State provides lawyers for indigent suspects.  Once arrested, 
the accused must be given a court hearing within 8 days in a 
city or 30 days in a rural area.  Circumstances surrounding 
arrest are subject to judicial review at the time the accused 
is brought to trial.  If found innocent, the accused may apply 
to the same court for civil damages, and the arrest is deemed 
invalid.

Bail as such does not exist in Finland.  While persons accused 
of serious crimes must by law remain in custody pending trial, 
those charged with minor offenses may be released on personal 
recognizance at the court's discretion.  Preventive detention 
is authorized only during a declared state of war for narrowly 
defined offenses such as treason, mutiny, and arms 
trafficking.  Supervisory personnel from the Ministry of 
Justice and the Ministry of the Interior, as well as the 
Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Chancellor of Justice, have 
authority to enter prisons and to order the release of 
prisoners held without charges.  In 1993 there were 248 
pretrial detainees held for an average of 2.1 months.  The 
entire prison population amounted to 3,421.

By law, Finnish citizens cannot be exiled, and the Government 
respects this provision.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law provides for the right to fair public trial, and the 
authorities fully respect this.  The President appoints Supreme 
Court justices, who in turn appoint the lower court judges.  
Judges are appointed for terms limited only by mandatory 
retirement at age 70.  The judiciary is effectively insulated 
from political interference.

Local courts may conduct a trial behind closed doors in 
juvenile, matrimonial, and guardianship cases, or when 
publicity would offend morality or endanger the security of the 
State.  In national security cases, the judge may withhold from 
the public any or all information pertaining to charges, 
verdicts, and sentences.  The law provides for sanctions 
against violators of such restrictions.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

The law provides for the right to privacy and the sanctity of 
the home, and it specifically prohibits eavesdropping and mail 
tampering.  The authorities fully respect these provisions.  
The law authorizes police to conduct wiretapping under certain 
conditions of suspected criminal activity.  Senior police 
officials, rather than judges, have the authority to issue 
search warrants; there is no indication this power is abused.  
By law, the police are subject to judicial scrutiny.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, 
including the broadcast media.  The Government does not hamper 
this freedom.  A law that allows the Government to censor films 
for foreign-policy reasons is not implemented.

The Government also does not interfere with academic freedom.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly and 
association, and the authorities fully respect this.  For public demonstrations, the organizers must give prior 
notification to the police, who routinely pose no objections.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Government does not hamper the teaching or practice of any 
faith.  A special tax supports the two state churches, Lutheran 
and Eastern Orthodox, but nonmembers can obtain exemption.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Citizens are free to travel within and from the country, to 
emigrate, and to repatriate.

The Government cooperates with the U.N. High Commissioner for 
Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in assisting 
refugees, and there were no reports of forced expulsion of 
those having a a valid claim to refugee status.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Finland is a multiparty parliamentary democracy in which all 
citizens over the age of 18 may vote and balloting is secret.

Parliamentary and municipal elections take place every 4 
years.  Under legislation passed in 1991, the nation's first 
direct popular election of a president was held in February 
1994, and presidential elections are to be held every 6 years.

Women are fairly well represented in government.  There are 77 
in the 200-member Parliament, and 5 in the 16-member Cabinet.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Several domestic and international organizations in Finland 
monitor human rights matters, and the Government does not 
hinder their investigations.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language or Social Status

The Constitution prohibits any discrimination based on race, 
sex, religion, language, or social status, and the Government 
effectively enforces these provisions.

     Women

The government-established Council for Equality coordinates and 
sponsors legislation to meet the needs of women as workers, 
mothers, widows, or retirees.

The 1985 legislation on equal treatment for women in the 
workplace has not been fully implemented.  Women earn about 80 
percent of men's pay in comparable jobs, and they are 
concentrated in lower-paying occupations while they are 
underrepresented in top management positions.  Women are not 
permitted to serve in the military.

The Government's Equality Ombudsman monitors compliance with 
regulations against sexual discrimination.  In 1994, 168 
complaints of illegal discrimination against women were 
submitted to the Ombudsman, of which 38 were found valid.  
Redress for violation of equality laws includes mandated hiring 
and promotions, as well as other direct compensation to 
victims.  Violators are subject to dismissal and fines.

The law provides stringent penalties for violence against 
women, and the authorities enforce these provisions.  The Union of Shelter Homes and various municipalities maintain in all a 
total of 55 government-subsidized shelters for battered persons.

Each year, an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 calls to the police 
relate to domestic violence; officials believe this is only 
about half the number of actual incidents.  Studies show that 
most violence against women is perpetrated by family members.  
The latest statistics on rape are from 1991, when there were 60 
convictions, of which 43 were punished by unconditional prison 
sentences, averaging 19 1/2 months.  Experts believe that rape, 
too, is underreported.  Legislation which took effect on June 1 
treats spousal rape the same as nonspousal rape.

     Children

The national consensus supporting children's rights is 
enshrined in law, which provides extensive protection for them.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The law protects the customs and language of the Samis (Lapps), 
who constitute under one-tenth of 1 percent of the population.  
The Government subsidizes Sami language teaching and traditions 
(mainly relating to reindeer herding).  Samis have the same 
political and civil rights as other citizens, and participate 
in decisions affecting their interests.

There have been isolated cases of violence against ethnic 
minorities, mainly assaults by inebriated youngsters.  The 
violations have been treated as common crimes, without regard 
to the question of whether they involved discrimination based 
on the victim's nationality.  Government educational programs 
seek to improve attitudes towards ethnic minorities.

     People with Disabilities

Although since the 1970's the law has required that new public 
buildings be accessible to people with physical disabilities, 
many older buildings remain inaccessible to them.  There is no 
such law for public transportation, but each state subsidizes 
measures to improve accessibility to vehicles.  Local 
governments maintain a free transport service that guarantees 
18 free trips per month for a disabled person.  The deaf and 
the mute are provided interpretation services ranging from 120 
to 240 hours annually.  The Government provides subsidized 
public housing to the severely disabled.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution provides for the rights of trade unions to 
organize, assemble peacefully, and strike, and the Government 
respects these provisions.  About 87 percent of the work force 
is organized.  All unions are independent of the Government and 
political parties.  The law grants public-sector employees the 
right to strike, with some exceptions for provision of 
essential services.  In the first quarter of 1994 there were 26 
strikes, of which all but 1 were wildcat strikes.

Trade unions freely affiliate with international bodies.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law provides for the right to organize and bargain 
collectively.  Collective bargaining agreements are usually 
based on incomes policy agreements between employees' and 
employers' central organizations and the Government.  
Increasingly, however, collective bargaining agreements are 
being negotiated at sectoral levels instead.  The law protects 
workers against antiunion discrimination.  Complaint resolution 
is governed by collective bargaining agreements as well as 
labor law, both of which are adequately enforced.

There are no export processing zones in Finland.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and such 
practices do not occur in Finland.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Youths under 16 years of age cannot work more than 6 hours a 
day, or at night, and education is compulsory for children from 
age 7 to 16 years.  The Labor Ministry enforces child labor 
regulations.  There are virtually no complaints of exploitation 
of children in the work force.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

There is no legislated minimum wage, but the law requires all 
employers--including nonunionized ones--to meet the minimum 
wages agreed to in collective bargaining agreements in the 
respective industrial sector.  These minimum wages generally 
afford a decent standard of living for workers and their 
families.

The legal workweek consists of 5 days not exceeding 40 hours.  
Employees working in shifts or during the weekend are entitled 
to a 24-hour rest period during the week.  The law is 
effectively enforced as a minimum, and many workers enjoy even 
stronger benefits through effectively enforced collective 
bargaining agreements.

The Government sets occupational health and safety standards, 
and the Labor Ministry effectively enforces them.  Workers can 
refuse dangerous work situations, without risk of penalty.
(###)

[end of document]

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