Speech ”Human trafficking in Finland” at the Seminar ”The Nordic Model on Preventing Prostitution and Human Trafficking”, Reykjavik, 23.6. 2015

The scope of the challenge


A total of 30 000 identified and presumed victims were registered in the 28 EU Member States in 2010-2012, out of which over a thousand were children trafficked for sexual exploitation. 80 percent of registered victims were female, and 65 percent of registered victims were EU citizens. Of the registered victims who are confirmed as EU citizens, the top 5 countries of citizenship are Bulgaria, Romania, the Netherlands, Hungary and Poland. Over the three years, the top 5 non-EU countries of citizenship of registered victims were Nigeria, Brazil, China, Viet Nam and Russia. There has been an increase in the number of ¨unknown¨ citizenships from 2010 to 2011.

In addition, 71 percent of labor exploitation victims were male in the EU Member States during these three years.


Finland is both a transit and a destination country for human trafficking, but human trafficking is less prevalent in Finland than it is in most other EU countries. To some extent Finland is also considered a source country for human trafficking. No incidents of organ trade have been detected in Finland, and trafficking tends to mostly appear in forms of prostitution and procuring (pimping), as well as labor exploitation. Labor exploitation is especially prevalent in berry picking, restaurant, cleaning, metal, transportation, construction and gardening industries as well as in personal households.


According to statistics provided by Eurostat, in 2010-2012 there was a total of 231 registered victims of human trafficking in Finland. In comparison, the corresponding number of registered victims of human trafficking in Sweden was 311, 179 in Denmark, 125 in Norway, 135 in Estonia and 4,474 in United Kingdom.


The Finnish Police estimate that about 200-250 women cross the Finnish border from the East weekly to work as prostitutes in Finland. Annually about 10,000-15,000 prostitutes spend some amount of time working in Finland. These women are mostly from Russia, Estonia and to some extent from Lithuania and Latvia. A chance of these women being forced to work as prostitutes cannot be excluded.


Human rights based and victim centered approach


The work of Finnish authorities for preventing trafficking in human beings is guided by the Government adopted (2008) Revised National Plan of Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. It defines preventive measures and is based on human rights based and victim centered approach.  This approach is important in preventing trafficking in human beings as it emphasizes that the human rights of the victim should be the basis for all preventive measures.

The civil society organizations representing the victims and the victims themselves must be heard while designing and implementing  the anti-trafficking policies.

In sum: The authorities should treat victims of Trafficking with presumption that they are victims , not illegal immigrants (criminals).


The prevention and  the aid must be comprehensive


Measures for preventing trafficking in human beings include for example neighboring area cooperation, development cooperation, civilian crisis management, occupational safety and health monitoring, combating black economy, and visa and residence permit discretion.

Respectively the victims need aid that may include medical, legal, economic, social etc. services.

That´s why we need a multi-professional co-operation to prevent trafficking and help the victims.


Addressing the root causes


Trafficking cannot be addressed effectively without addressing also the root causes in source countries. Trafficking can be reduced if poverty is addressed and the general human rights situation is improved. Improving the situation of women and girls is often a good starting point, since they often belong to the most vulnerable groups in a society and may suffer from multiple discrimination (like Roma women, disabled girls etc.) . Finland has set preventing trafficking as one of the objectives in its National Action Plan of UNSC Resolution 1325. A specific goal that is mentioned in the Action Plan is to develop the implementation of the assistance system in a way that helps women and girls who have become victims of trafficking or who are in danger of victimization or re-victimization.


Combat organized international crime by regional and international co-operation


Trafficking in human beings is often part of organized international crime. Therefore regional and international cooperation and a strategic approach are crucial. Authorities in source, transit and destination countries of trafficking need to work together in order to break the channels of trafficking and to bring effectively the perpetrators to justice. Finland has established bilateral cooperation channels with other countries and found it extremely fruitful. Cooperation with non-governmental organizations is equally important.


Finland and the Baltic States cooperate in combating transnational crime, including trafficking in human beings. Finland has three liaison officers representing the Police, Customs and the Boarder Guard in Tallinn. These liaison officers cover all three Baltic countries. The Embassy of Finland in Tallinn coordinates the Musta tulevaisuus/Mustalt oled Mudas (“Black Future”) information campaign in Estonia. This Finnish campaign aims at preventing grey economy in particular in the construction sector. The campaign provides information on the tax number required for everyone working on construction sites in Finland as well as issues related to workers’ rights.


Preventive legislation


Trafficking in human beings and related exploitation can be prevented by discouraging demand for services provided by victims of trafficking in human beings. Under the Criminal Code in Finland, chapter 20, section 8 (as amended, 743/2006), buying sexual services from a victim of procuring or trafficking in human beings is prohibited. The Aliens Act has also been amended to include provisions permitting a period of reflection and the issuing of residence permits for suspected victims of trafficking. The Act on Reception of Persons Seeking International Protection includes provisions on an assistance system for trafficking victims.


Finland ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography on 1 June 2012. As regards the terms of reference for a review mechanism for the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols, which include the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, Finland was actively involved in the negotiations and worked consistently for the adoption of an inclusive approach to the review, i.e. the full participation of civil society in the review mechanism.


Public awareness


As regards awareness raising, the Finnish Ombudsman for Minorities, plays a vital role. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland is also committed to raise awareness especially within the Ministry in order to train its official to recognize and to work effectively in preventing human trafficking. The Unit for Human Rights Policy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs organized in October 2012 an event for the Ministry’s personnel regarding the protection of victims of trafficking in human beings.



Prevention by the visa-policies


As regards visa-policies, Finland together with other Schengen states realizes common visa-policy of the European Union, which is central in preventing trafficking of human beings. It aims at recognizing trafficking as early as possible in departure and transfer countries. In the departure countries it is important to raise awareness on human trafficking phenomenon and legal ways of migration so that persons vulnerable to trafficking know how to avoid traffickers’ offers and misleading promises. In this regard, the awareness raising work done by the embassies and consulates is crucial.