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Statement of the Finnish Non-Discrimination Ombudsman acting as a National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings

Statement of the Finnish Non-Discrimination Ombudsman acting as a National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings

As a National Rapporteur, the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman follows action against human trafficking in Finland, human trafficking at large, compliance with international obligations and the effectiveness of national legislation. The Ombudsman issues suggestions, recommendations, statements and advice and follows the implementation of the rights of trafficking victims.

The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman has paid attention to the tendency that trafficking in human beings is relatively little discussed as a form of violence against women in Finland. The Ombudsman has encouraged the Government to include the issue of human trafficking in the governmental action plans on violence against women and gender equality. The Ombudsman has encouraged the Government to evaluate the gender impact of the current anti-human trafficking policies and laws.

The Ombudsman issued the most recent report to the Parliament in April. The report includes a summary of a study implemented by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman and the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control (HEUNI). The study assesses the Finnish legislation that applies to assistance for victims of human trafficking.

The Ombudsman wishes to pay GREVIO’s attention also to the implementation of the Article 10 of the Istanbul Convention. The Convention obligates States Parties to designate or establish one or more official bodies responsible for the co-ordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and measures to prevent and combat all forms of violence covered by the Convention. The CEDAW Committee has recently communicated its view to the Finnish Government on the recommendation concerning the development and implementation of an effective institutional mechanism to coordinate, monitor and assesses measures to prevent and address violence against women (CEDAW/C/69/D/103/2016). 

In 2017, Finland established an inter-ministerial coordination group under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman is represented in the group as an independent permanent expert. It may be reasonable to ask whether the coordination group is sufficient institutional mechanism to monitor, evaluate and assess the measures against violence against women, as it is not an independent body. The question is also relevant because the Ombudsman for Equality, supervising the compliance of the Gender Equality Act, considers that the powers and supervisory duties of the Ombudsman do not cover other forms of violence than sexual harassment.