Task of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings
The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman is the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings. The task of the Rapporteur is to examine the work to combat human trafficking in Finland as an independent body. The aim of the Rapporteur is to ensure that the victims of human trafficking are identified and receive help and that their rights are enforced. In the Rapporteur’s view, it is important that those responsible for human trafficking are held criminally liable for their acts and that structural measures are taken to prevent human trafficking.
The duties of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings are laid down in the Act on the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman. Under the act, the task of the Rapporteur is to monitor human trafficking phenomena, compliance with international obligations and the effectiveness of the national legislation. As part of this task, the Rapporteur produces reports on human trafficking and related phenomena. The Ombudsman may also provide legal advice and, in exceptional situations, assist victims of human trafficking in courts.
The Ombudsman has the right to access a wide range of information, including details of criminal convictions that are normally kept secret. This is important so that the Ombudsman can assess compliance with international agreements on human trafficking and determine how the national legislation is responding to the challenges arising from human trafficking.
The National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings was appointed in 2009
The National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings was appointed in 2009 to monitor human trafficking and related phenomena. The decision to establish the post was prompted by the belief that the action against human trafficking would benefit from external monitoring and assessments, and analysis-based development proposals.
The view was also that the Rapporteur could bring the issue of human trafficking to political and public debate, which was expected to make the efforts to combat human trafficking more effective. Over the years, the Rapporteur has been doing this for example by publishing reports and studies, and by issuing recommendations, which have also led to progress in the efforts to combat human trafficking by different government agencies.
Residence permit practices concerning victims of human trafficking are being reviewed
The Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment have ordered a review of the grounds on which victims of human trafficking are granted residence permits. The review will be conducted by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman acting as the national human trafficking rapporteur. The aim is to investigate how the Finnish Immigration Service applies the special regulation of the Aliens Act to the continuous residence permit granted to trafficking victims.
The review will examine the types of victims of human trafficking the Finnish Immigration Service has identified, what kinds of abuse the victims have endured and what their chances of surviving the abuse are. The examination will also cover how the Aliens Act has been applied in the processing of their applications and which factors have affected the interpretation of the Act. One central research question also concerns how the vulnerability of the trafficking victims has been recognised and evaluated on the basis of the Aliens Act.
The research subjects are the residence permit and asylum decisions concerning victims of human trafficking the Finnish Immigration Service has made in the period between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2020. The aim is to produce information, based on which the possible needs for legislation amendment and development of law application and interpretation practices can be assessed.
The Parliament has demanded the Government to find out whether there are legislative amendment needs related to the grounds for the residence permits of trafficking victims. For example, the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman has paid attention to the residence permit practices concerning victims of human trafficking, such as the high threshold for granting a continuous residence permit and the varying application practices. The preparations of the Government’s anti-trafficking action plan have also brought forward questions related to residence permits.
The review will support the Government’s work to prevent human trafficking
The research information produced by the review will also serve the sub-group of the development project of labour immigration set up by the Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen in March 2020. The sub-group will prepare measures with which the abuse of foreign labour can be better prevented, identified and combatted. The aim is also to review the conditions for a trafficking victim’s residence permit. The working group will utilise the research information when assessing whether there is the need to make amendments to the legislation concerning residence permit grounds or can the observations be affected in other ways, such as instructions or training.
The Government is committed to the prevention of human trafficking and the results of the review can be utilised in the efforts even more comprehensively. The Government Programme contains many items whose purpose is to enhance the prevention of human trafficking. The objectives include improved help for trafficking victims, faster identification and revelation of human trafficking, and fulfilment of criminal liability.
The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman is an independent authority that also acts as the national rapporteur of human trafficking. The duties of the national human trafficking rapporteur include the counselling and training of authorities, the management of the authorities’ operations and the making of surveys. It is the rapporteur’s duty to monitor the combatting of human trafficking in Finland and report the observations to the Government and Parliament.
The survey that is now in progress will be published in September 2021. Comprehensive research on the residence permit practices concerning victims of human trafficking has not been done before.
The Aliens Act contains a special regulation on the residence permits of trafficking victims
In 2006, due to the international and EU obligations binding Finland, regulations concerning the residence permit for victims of human trafficking that can be either temporary or continuous were introduced to the Aliens Act. The central objectives of the reformation were the prevention of human trafficking crimes, catching of the criminals and protection of the victims so that they would not become victims of human trafficking again.
Victims of human trafficking are granted a temporary residence permit, if the victim’s residency in Finland is justified due to the pre-trial investigation or court hearing of human trafficking, the victim is open to cooperating with the authorities in order to catch those suspected of human trafficking and the victim no longer has ties to those suspected of human trafficking.
A continuous residence permit is granted if the victim is in a particularly vulnerable position. In this case it is not required that the victim’s residency in Finland is justified due to a pre-trial investigation or court hearing or that the victim is open to cooperating with the authorities in order to catch those suspected of human trafficking.
Becoming a victim of human trafficking may also be a reason to grant international protection or a residence permit due to a personal humanitarian reason.
For more information, please contact:
Special Expert Roope Jokinen, MoI, [email protected], tel. 0295 488 362
Researcher Heini Kainulainen, NDO, [email protected], tel. 0295 666 821
Government Counsellor Olli Sorainen, MEAE, [email protected], tel. 0295 048 022
Sub-group for preventing the exploitation of foreign labour | MEAE
Prevention of human trafficking | MoJ
Stepping up the fight against human trafficking through cooperation between authorities and organisations | MoI press release on 5 November 2020
The Assistance system for victims of human trafficking