Press Releases, 5/24/2011
UN Committee against Torture enquired into Finland’s situation
Press release 154/2011
24 May 2011
The United Nations Committee against Torture presented about a hundred questions elaborating on Finland’s periodic report. The Committee dealt with the report during Finland’s oral examination held at the Committee’s 46th Session in Geneva on 18–19 May.
The report being examined was the Combined Fifth and Sixth Periodic Reports of Finland encompassing the years 2002 to 2009. A public review of the draft report took place last September, before its submission to the UN Secretary General.
The report is based on the questions presented by the Committee in advance. Among other issues, it deals with criminalisation of torture, prison administration, the conditions for persons detained by virtue of the Aliens Act, the tasks and work of the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the accelerated procedure for consideration of asylum requests. Moreover, the report describes combating human trafficking, especially that of women and children, preventing the abuse of children, and the situation and treatment of Roma in Finland. The report also presents measures taken to combat violence against women.
The Committee presented a total of about one hundred additional questions to the Finnish delegation. These questions pertained to violence against women, the legal protection of asylum-seekers, human trafficking, the role of the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the tasks of the Human Rights Centre to be established under the Parliamentary Ombudsman, and the training of police and legal protection mechanisms in police work.
The Committee requested additional information about the legal position of Roma and Sámi. There were numerous questions about prison administration, including cells without sanitary facilities. The Committee was interested in Finland’s legislation on compensation for damage and the lengths of legal proceedings. The Committee was also interested in the position of human rights conventions in the Finnish legal system. Moreover, the Committee enquired why Finnish legislation does not include specific prohibition of using evidence obtained by means of torture.
The Committee was interested in certain individual cases and asked, for instance, about the case relating to genocide in Rwanda that is being heard in Finland.
The Finnish delegation consisted of Head of Unit Arto Kosonen from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, who was head of the delegation, and the delegation members Legislative Counsellor Ulla Mohell from the Ministry of Justice, Ministerial Counsellor, Legal Affairs Riitta-Maija Jouttimäki from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Chief Administrator Päivi Pietarinen from the Ministry of the Interior, Counsellor Jaakko Halttunen from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Counsellor Krista Oinonen from the Finnish Permanent Mission to Geneva. Ambassador Hannu Himanen also took part in the session.
The periodic report is based on the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which came into effect in Finland in 1989 (SopS 59-60/1989). Implementation of the Convention is monitored by means of periodic reports compiled by the States party to the Convention at four-year intervals. The periodic reports explain the actions taken by the States party to the Convention to implement the stipulations of the Convention. Finland has since approved the new reporting procedure, where the report is based on questions presented by the Committee in advance.
Additional information: Counsellor Jaakko Halttunen, tel. +358 9 1605 5713, Legislative Counsellor Ulla Mohell, Ministry of Justice, tel. +358 9 1606 7892, mobile tel. +358 50 583 9460, Ministerial Counsellor, Legal Affairs Riitta-Maija Jouttimäki, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 9 1607 3806, Chief Administrator Päivi Pietarinen, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 7 1878 8257