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Title:  Finland Human Rights Practices, 1995 
Author:  U.S. Department of State  
Date:  March 1996  
 
 
 
 
                            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 1995 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 reports of politically motivated disappearances. 
 
  c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that 
officials employed them. 
 
  d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
The law prohibits arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile, and the 
Government observes this prohibition. 
 
  e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The law provides for the right to fair public trial, and an independent 
judiciary vigorously enforces this right.  The President appoints 
Supreme Court justices, who in turn appoint the lower court judges. 
 
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. 
 
There were no reports of political prisoners. 
 
  f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
The law prohibits such practices.  Government authorities generally 
respect these prohibitions, and violations are subject to effective 
legal sanction. 
 
Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
  a.  Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
The law provides for freedom of the press, and the Government respects 
this right in practice.  An independent press, an effective judiciary, 
and a functioning democratic political system combine to ensure freedom 
of speech and of the press, including academic freedom. 
 
  b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The law provides for these rights, and the Government respects them in 
practice. 
 
  c.  Freedom of Religion 
 
The law provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects 
this right in practice. 
 
  d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
The law provides for these rights, and the Government respects them in 
practice. 
 
The Government cooperates with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees 
and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees.  There were 
no reports of forced expulsion of those having a valid claim to refugee 
status. 
 
Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
The Constitution provides citizens with the right to peacefully change 
their Government, and citizens exercise this right in practice through 
periodic, free and fair elections held on the basis of universal 
suffrage. 
 
Women are fairly well represented in government.  There are 67 in the 
200-member Parliament, and 7 in the 18-member Cabinet.  The current 
Government has made increasing the number of women in senior positions a 
priority, placing women at the top of key ministries, including Foreign 
Affairs, Defense, and Finance. 
 
Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
A number of human rights groups operate without government restriction, 
investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases.  
Government officials are very cooperative and responsive to their views. 
 
Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
 
The law prohibits any discrimination based on race, sex, religion, 
disability, language, or social status, and the Government effectively 
enforces these provisions. 
 
  Women 
 
The law provides for stringent penalties for violence against women; 
this provision is vigorously enforced by the police and the courts.  The 
Union of Shelter Homes as well as the municipalities maintain such homes 
for female, male, and child victims of violence in homes all over the 
country.  The total number of shelter units is around 55.  The annual 
number of calls to the police relating to domestic violence is no longer 
centrally compiled but is estimated at some 10,000 to 12,000.  Shelter 
officials state that the figure is less than half of the number of 
actual incidents.  There were 90 rape cases handled by the courts in 
1991, the last year for which central statistics are available.  
Government experts note no evidence of a significant change in the 
incidence of rape in recent years but say that as many as half of all 
rapes may go unreported. 
 
Two thorough epidemiological studies indicate that 5 to 8 percent of the 
retired population fall victim to violence.  Studies show that the 
opening of a shelter home in an area brings cases of family violence out 
into the open.  The concept of family violence in Finland includes 
negligence in care, psychological violence, and economic abuse. 
 
The government-established Council for Equality coordinates and sponsors 
legislation to meet the needs of women as workers, mothers, widows, or 
retirees. 
 
In 1985 Parliament passed a comprehensive equal rights law which 
mandates equal treatment for women in the workplace, including equal pay 
for "comparable" jobs.  In practice, comparable worth has not been 
implemented because of the difficulty of establishing criteria, but the 
Government,  
 
employers, unions, and others continue to work on implementation plans.  
Women's average earnings are 80 percent of those of men, and women still 
tend to be segregated in lower- paying occupations.  While women have 
individually attained leadership positions in the private and public 
sectors, there are disproportionately fewer women in top management 
jobs.  Industry and finance, the labor movement, and some government 
ministries remain male dominated.  Women are permitted to serve in the 
military.  The Government's Equality Ombudsman monitors compliance with 
regulations against sexual discrimination.  Of the 85 complaints 
submitted to the Ombudsman between January 1 and June 30, 61 had been 
processed, and a violation of the law was established in 24 cases. 
 
  Children 
 
The Government demonstrates its strong commitment to children's rights 
and welfare through its well-funded systems of public education and 
medical care.  There is no pattern of societal abuse of children, and 
the national consensus supporting children's rights is enshrined in law. 
 
  People with Disabilities 
 
Although the law has required since the 1970's 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. 
 
  Indigenous People 
 
Sami (Lapps), who constitute less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the 
population, benefit from legal provisions protecting minority rights and 
customs.  Sami language and culture are supported financially by the 
Government.  The Sami receive subsidies to enable them to continue their 
traditional lifestyle, which revolves around reindeer herding.  Sami 
have full political and civil rights and are able to participate in 
decisions affecting their economic and cultural interests.  Swedish is 
established as a second official language; about 6 percent of the Sami 
population speaks Swedish as a native language. 
 
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 1995 there 
were 33 strikes, of which all but 2 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 employee and employer central organizations and the 
Government.  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. 
 
  c.  Prohibition of Forced Compulsory Labor 
 
The Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and this 
prohibition is honored in practice. 
 
  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  7 to 16 years of 
age.  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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