CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 19
OF THE CONVENTION
Third periodic reports of States parties due in 1998
[16 November 1998]
* The initial report submitted
by the Government of Finland is contained in document CAT/C/9/Add.4;
for its consideration by the Committee, see documents CAT/C/SR.65 and
66 and Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-sixth Session,
Supplement No. 44 (A/46/44, paras. 182-208). For the second periodic
report, see CAT/C/25/Add.7; for its consideration, see CAT/C/SR.249
and 250 and Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-first
Session, Supplement No. 44 (A/51/44, paras. 120-137).
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I. MEASURES AND
DEVELOPMENTS RELATING TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONVENTION
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II. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
REQUESTED BY THE COMMITTEE
III. MEASURES TAKEN
FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
OF THE COMMITTEE
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1. This is the third periodic
report submitted by Finland to the United Nations on the Convention
against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The previous report was submitted in the autumn of 1995 (CAT/C/25/Add.7)
and the first in the autumn of 1990 (CAT/C/9/Add.4).
2. In accordance with the
new guidelines for the submission of reports (CAT/C/14/Rev.1) adopted
by the Committee against Torture on 2 June 1998, the report is presented
in three parts. Part I explains the most important legislative and organizational
reforms, supervision by the authorities as well as practical measures
taken in the fields covered by the Convention and on the basis of individual
3. During the consideration
of the previous report in May 1996, hardly any information was found
that would need to be supplemented in Part II of the report.
4. Part III gives an account
of the measures taken to implement the conclusions and recommendations
adopted by the Committee on the previous report (A/51/44, paras. 120-137).
No significant problems relating to the implementation of the Convention
have been found in Finland. The Committee recommended the establishment
of an independent agency to investigate offences allegedly committed
by the police. Recently the situation has been changed so that the investigation
is led by the prosecutor. The Committee also paid attention to certain
procedures provided for in the legislation on aliens. The Aliens' Act
has been amended by provisions which entered into force on 1 January
1998. In addition, an extension of the competence of the Ombudsman for
Aliens is under consideration.
5. The Committee recommended
the incorporation of a definition of torture into the legislation as
well as the incorporation of a special provision into the criminal procedure
concerning the exclusion from judicial proceedings of evidence which
has been established to have been obtained as a result of torture. This
has not been considered appropriate as the national legislation covers
all acts of torture even without a specific provision thereon. An absolute
prohibition of the use of certain evidence would, on the one hand, be
against the principle of the free weighing of evidence included in our
procedural law. On the other hand, the prohibition of the use of information
obtained as a result of torture is manifest in case law. No final decision
has yet been made regarding the preventive detention system, which has
aroused the interest of the Committee.
6. This report has been
prepared in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in cooperation with various
ministries and the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman. In addition,
for the preparation of the report, a few non-governmental organizations
were requested to present their views on issues which in their opinion
should be addressed in the report. The interest of the organizations
proved to be minor.
7. Measures to combat ethnic
discrimination and to promote tolerance as well as the Finnish legislation
on aliens have been discussed in detail in the thirteenth and fourteenth
reports of Finland on the implementation of the International Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination submitted to
the United Nations in November 1997. This report will be available to
I. MEASURES AND DEVELOPMENTS RELATING TO THE
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONVENTION
8. The number of prisoners
has decreased considerably in Finland during the past few decades. This
decrease has continued in the 1990s. In 1997, the average prison population
in Finland was 3,000, which is approximately 300 prisoners fewer than
in 1995 when Finland submitted its previous periodic report. The decrease
in the number of prisoners has mainly resulted from a decrease in the
number of prisoners convicted for offences against property, the number
of whom has decreased almost to half in this decade. However, the number
of prisoners serving a sentence for a crime of violence and/or robbery
has risen. Also, the number of prisoners serving a sentence for drug-related
crimes has risen during the past few years.
9. The number of convicted
prisoners serving a sentence has decreased since 1995, but the number
of remand prisoners has risen slightly. Also the number of young prisoners,
especially of those under 18 years of age, has decreased during the
past few years. In 1997, approximately 340 prisoners under 21 years
of age started serving their sentences.
10. The number of female
prisoners has not undergone major changes during the past few years.
In 1997, the average number of female prisoners was 144, which is slightly
less than in 1996.
11. By a legislative amendment,
which entered into force on 1 May 1995, the basic provisions relating
to the treatment of prisoners were transferred from the Prison Administration
Decree to the Act on the Enforcement of Sentences (128/1995). Chapter
1, section 5, of the Act provides that prisoners have to be treated
fairly and with respect for their human dignity. The provision also
contains a prohibition of discrimination. Furthermore, a provision was
incorporated in the Act stating that the prisoner shall be heard when
making a decision concerning his living or work or transfer to other
activities as well as another important decision concerning his other
treatment (chapter 1, section 6, of the Act). The aim of the amendment
was to emphasize the legal protection of the prisoner and the fundamental
importance of the human treatment of prisoners.
12. Also, provisions concerning
prisoners' correspondence were specified in connection with the amendment.
In accordance with the new provisions, correspondence between a prisoner
and an authority supervising the penal institution or a body monitoring
implementation of human rights, to which the prisoner may under international
conventions address communications or file complaints, shall be delivered
uncensored and without delay.
13. The amendment extended
the prisoners' earlier obligation to work into an obligation to participate
in work, training or other activity improving the prisoner's ability
to engage in different activities. These activities, which have been
increased and invested in considerably during the past few years, include,
inter alia, activities and programmes improving the prisoner's
physical, psychological or social abilities, programmes aiming at decreasing
the use of intoxicants by prisoners as well as cognitive skills training
programmes aiming at increasing prisoners' abilities to solve problems.
The cognitive skills training activity started in five prisons in the
autumn of 1997.
14. In the spring of 1998,
a government bill for the amendment of the Act on the Enforcement of
Sentences was given to Parliament. The proposal aims at preventing drug-related
crimes in prisons.
15. The four tables annexed
to this report indicate the prison population range, the average number
of remand prisoners and imprisoned fine defaulters, the age groups of
prisoners as well as the principal offences of prisoners.
Prison conditions of
the Roma and foreigners
16. Under Finnish law, people
may not be registered according to their ethnic origin. Therefore no
statistics exist on Roma prisoners.
17. The Advisory Board for
Romany Affairs, working subordinate to the Ministry of Social Affairs
and Health, has indicated that Roma prisoners face problems in prisons.
These include conflicts between Roma prisoners and other prisoners and
between Roma prisoners as well as pressure on the Roma prisoners by
other prisoners. Roma prisoners often request transfers to other prisons.
In extreme situations, Roma prisoners have been placed in solitary confinement
in order to settle down threatening situations. An amendment aiming
at improving the position of prisoners in solitary confinement is being
discussed by Parliament.
18. Attention has been paid
to the position of Roma prisoners. In the autumn of 1997, the Prison
Department of the Ministry of Justice sent prisons a letter regarding
measures to increase tolerance and to prevent racism. Attempts have
also been made to improve the situation, inter alia by including
information on Romani culture in the training of prison guards. Also
in some prisons, e.g. in the juvenile prison, the Romani language and
culture are being taught by a person belonging to the Roma population.
A cooperation group was established in the Prison Department of the
Ministry of Justice in 1995.
19. Roma contact persons
have been designated for prisons on a voluntary basis in cooperation
with the Prison Department in 1997. These contact persons create contacts
with Roma prisoners and the prison authorities.
20. The number of foreign
prisoners - both immigrants and those residing in Finland only temporarily
- has risen during the past few years. The Ombudsman for Aliens working
subordinate to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has, as a part
of his duties, aimed at ascertaining the conditions of foreigners in
prisons, inter alia through visits. According to the opinion
of the Ombudsman for Aliens, the conditions of foreign prisoners have
given no cause for objections, nor have the prisoners filed complaints.
21. On 16 October 1997,
the Council of State adopted the Decision-in-Principle for the Government
Programme on Immigration and Refugee Policy. According to the Programme,
detention of foreigners is a form of administrative detention that should
only be exercised as an extreme safeguard in the case of asylum seekers.
22. The programme obligated
the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of the Interior together urgently
to examine the possibilities of using reception centres for asylum seekers
as detention facilities for foreigners. Section 47, subsection 2, of
the Aliens' Act is proposed to be amended to read: "a detained foreigner
shall, as soon as possible, be transferred to a detention facility reserved
specifically for this purpose". The proposal for an Act on the Integration
of Immigrants and Reception of Asylum Seekers contains a provision (sect.
25) according to which "the detention of asylum seekers referred to
in section 46 of the Aliens' Act may be arranged at the reception centres
as provided for by Decree". Both Acts are under consideration in Parliament.
treatment of criminal patients
23. After the submission
of the previous report, the Mental Health Act (1116/1990) and the Act
on State Mental Hospitals (1292/1987) were amended by Acts 383/1997
and 384/1997, which entered into force on 1 June 1997. The legislative
amendments were considered necessary because the examination and treatment
of criminal patients, especially at the initial stage, has been deemed
as special medical care. The amendments aimed at centralizing the demanding
treatment of criminal patients to hospitals which can meet the requirements
of their treatment. The possibilities of the National Board of Medicolegal
Affairs, operating under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health,
to decide on the place of treatment of a criminal patient were increased:
since the amendment, it has decided the place where the involuntary
treatment of an accused will start. Also the participation of municipalities
in the activities of the Board of Forensic Psychiatry of the National
Board of Medicolegal Affairs and in the administration of State mental
hospitals was increased.
24. After the submission
of the previous report of Finland, the Military Discipline Act (331/1983)
was amended so that confinement can no longer be imposed in disciplinary
proceedings. A court can still order confinement.
25. When the provisions
of the Constitution Act on fundamental rights were reformed, more detailed
provisions, inter alia on interference in personal integrity
and deprivation of liberty, were incorporated in section 6 of the Constitution
Act. The new fundamental rights provisions entered into force on 1 August
1995. In accordance with subsection 3 of the section, only a court of
law may impose a punishment constituting the deprivation of liberty.
According to the travaux préparatoires, the purpose of the provision
is to cover all forms of deprivation of liberty which amount to punishments,
which is why its scope of application is wider than the concept of imprisonment
used in chapter 2, section 1, subsection 1, of the Penal Code. According
to the travaux préparatoires, the deprivation of liberty referred
to in the provision comprises, inter alia, confinement in accordance
with the Military Discipline Act.
26. The Act on the Amendment
of the Military Discipline Act (991/1997) entered into force on 1 January
1998. Prior to the entry into force of the Act, it was possible, through
disciplinary proceedings, to impose confinement from one to eight days.
Since the beginning of 1998, it has no longer been possible to impose
confinement in disciplinary proceedings. A court may, however, still
sentence a person to confinement. The minimum period of confinement
is one day and the maximum is 30 days. Confinement shall be enforced
at the main guardhouse or so that the person sentenced is otherwise
27. In 1996 confinement
was imposed or pronounced as a sentence 172 times and in 1997, 209 times.
In 1996 the proportion of confinement of all sanctions imposed in proceedings
in accordance with the Military Discipline Act and the Military Court
Procedure Act was 3 per cent and in 1997, 4 per cent.
Punishability of torture
28. The proposal for section
6, subsection 2, of the Constitution Act (prohibition of torture), presented
in paragraph 11 of the previous periodic report, which was part of the
reform of the fundamental rights, was adopted in Parliament as such.
According to the prohibition of torture, "no one shall be sentenced
to death, tortured or otherwise treated in a degrading manner".
Occurrence of torture
29. Cf. section on the Parliamentary
Scope of application
of the Penal Code
30. Parliament has adopted
the proposal referred to in the previous report (para. 22) for new provisions
on the scope of application of the Finnish Penal Code. According to
the proposal, chapter 1, section 7, of the Penal Code provides that
Finnish law always applies to international offences regardless of where
they have been committed. The Decree relating to the section further
provides that the offences referred to in the Convention against Torture
are international offences. The Act and the Decree entered into force
on 1 September 1996.
31. Human rights education
given in comprehensive schools, high schools and vocational schools
as well as to different professional groups (the police, the personnel
of the Frontier Guard and prison administration, prosecutors, trial
lawyers, social welfare and health-care personnel and the civil servants
of ministries and administrations subordinate to them) has been explained
in detail in the thirteenth and fourteenth reports.
32. During the consideration
of the previous report by Finland, the maintenance of a police description
register was brought forward. The so-called ID-mark file no longer contains
any information referring to ethnic origin.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman
33. The fundamental rights
reform of the Constitution Act was supplemented with a provision according
to which, in the performance of his/her duties, the Parliamentary Ombudsman
shall supervise the implementation of fundamental and human rights (sect.
49, subsect. 2). A corresponding provision on the supervisory duty of
the Chancellor of Justice of the Council of State was added to section
46 of the Constitution Act.
34. Also since the submission
of the previous periodic report, decisions of the Parliamentary Ombudsman
have contained no references to torture. However, issues relating to
human dignity have often formed the basis of the decisions by the Ombudsman
even when no specific reference thereto has been made. Issues relating
to human dignity have emerged especially during inspections of closed
institutions when examining the facilities of the institutions and the
treatment of the persons held in them. The following decisions of the
Parliamentary Ombudsman can be given as examples:
(a) Institutions for the
mentally handicapped. The Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman found, in accordance
with her observations, that the detention rooms in central institutions
for special care of the mentally handicapped did not always meet with
the requirement of human treatment of the handicapped (record No. 121/2/95);
(b) Prisons. The Parliamentary
Ombudsman and the Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman have in their different
decisions paid attention, inter alia, to the conditions of the
Turku Central Prison and the Helsinki County Prison (Turku Central Prison,
Nos. 557, 710 and 1617/4/94 and 118/4/96 and Helsinki County Prison,
No. 2369/4/96). During an inspection of the Turku Central Prison, the
Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman drew attention to the fact that the prison
conditions shall, where possible, be arranged to correspond to the general
living conditions of society. During her inspection she noted that the
use of buckets for toilets and the lack of space deviated from the general
living conditions of society. In addition, due to the lack of ventilation
among other things, the quality of air and hygiene at the institution
were poor (No. 693/3/98);
(c) Inspections of police
prisons. Ordered by the Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman inspections were
started in 1997 in police prisons. In connection with the inspections,
the functioning of and conditions in police prisons were examined. In
this connection, the Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman has commented, for
example, on the sufficient distribution of food (Nos. 652/2/95 and 2741/4/95);
(d) Psychiatric hospitals.
On the initiative of the Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman, the use of
detention in psychiatric hospitals is being investigated (No. 1893/2/97);
(e) The Defence Forces.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman ordered that charges for a crime committed
in office be brought against a major who had harassed his subordinates,
inter alia, by laying hands on them, and thus made himself guilty
of improper behaviour of a soldier. The complainants in the preliminary
investigation were three female office workers (Nos. 656 and 657/4/96).
35. In general, the Office
of the Parliamentary Ombudsman notes that the reform of the Constitution
Act has not as such essentially changed the supervisory duties of the
Parliamentary Ombudsman. The Ombudsmen have for years in their decisions,
for the purpose of guiding authorities, emphasized the observance of
fundamental and human rights, for example with regard to degrading treatment.
On this point, reference is made to the previous periodic report.
36. English summaries of
the annual reports of the Parliamentary Ombudsman from the years 1994-1996,
where the observance of fundamental and human rights by the Parliamentary
Ombudsman is explained in more detail, are annexed to this report.
Reform of the public
37. After the submission
of the previous report, the Finnish public prosecution system was reformed.
At the first stage, the local prosecutors were made full-time, independent
authorities. The local prosecutors only deal with prosecution issues.
This reform entered into force on 1 December 1996. At the beginning
of December 1997, the Office of the Prosecutor-General was established.
The Office is led by the Prosecutor-General and the Deputy Prosecutor-General,
who are also superiors of other prosecutors. The Office of the Prosecutor-General
also has 10 State prosecutors who, inter alia, are responsible
for the prosecution in difficult criminal cases of general importance.
The Prosecutor-General is completely independent of other authorities
in his work.
The Centre for Torture
38. The Centre for Torture
Survivors in Finland, established in September 1993, has since 1997
been operating at the Deaconess Institute in Helsinki. The Centre is
a national service unit of specialized medical care which concentrates
on the mental, psychotherapeutic and physiotherapeutic assessment, treatment
and rehabilitation of tortured refugees, asylum seekers and their families
living in Finland. In addition the Centre provides training, consulting
and job guidance to people coming in contact with torture survivors,
mainly to professionals in the social and health-care fields and in
labour administration. The rehabilitation and consultation services
are free of charge. Training and job guidance are subject to a charge
39. The staff of the Centre
consists of three doctors specialized in psychiatry, a social worker,
a physiotherapist, a psychologist and an office secretary. The customers
are admitted for examination by referral from a doctor, public-health
nurse or social worker. Customers may also themselves contact the Centre.
In 1997 the doctors, the physiotherapist and the psychologist had altogether
1,049 appointments (1,120 appointments in 1996) and 92 patients were
treated at the Centre (69 patients in 1996), 7 of whom were women and
40. With the support of
the European Human Rights Fund, a three-year project, "Family and Network
Evaluation and Treatment for Torture Survivors and Other Victims of
Organized Violence", was started at the Centre for Torture Survivors
in the spring of 1996. The project aims at creating new treatment models
in order to enhance the rehabilitation and integration in Finland of
severely traumatized refugees and their families.
II. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REQUESTED BY THE
41. During the consideration
of the previous report, the Committee heard the representatives of the
Government of Finland on 2 May 1996. Individual questions presented
during the consideration were answered orally, and they will not be
handled again in this report. Regarding the Voluntary Fund for Victims
of Torture, it should be mentioned that the Government of Finland made
a voluntary contribution of Fmk 998,000 (US$ 185,000) to the Fund in
III. MEASURES TAKEN FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION
OF THE CONCLUSIONS
AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE
42. The Committee against
Torture considered the second periodic report of Finland and adopted
its final conclusions and recommendations (A/51/44, paras. 120-137)
at its 249th and 250th meetings on 2 May 1996. The Committee recommended
the incorporation of a definition of torture in legislation (132), the
completion of the procedure for the abolition of preventive detention
(133), the establishment of an independent agency to investigate offences
allegedly committed by the police (134), and supported the idea of the
reinforcement of the position of the Ombudsman for Aliens or the establishment
of an office of a human rights ombudsman (135). In addition, the Committee
gave attention to the returning of asylum seekers as well as the extradition
and expelling of foreigners (136) and recommended that a special provision
be incorporated into the criminal procedure legislation concerning the
exclusion of evidence obtained as a result of torture (137).
43. The first subject of
concern mentioned by the Committee (para. 128) was that in the criminal
law of Finland there is no provision containing a specific definition
of torture. The Committee also recommended (para. 132) that such a definition
be incorporated into the legislation in accordance with article 1 of
the Convention. Finland has not, however, considered it necessary to
have a separate definition of elements of torture. When Finland ratified
the Convention, it was ensured that all the acts referred to in the
Convention are punishable under Finnish law. For this purpose, for example,
attempted assault was made punishable even though there was no national
need for such an amendment.
44. Finland has thus adopted
a practice of applying general provisions, especially the provisions
of chapter 21, sections 5-7, of the Penal Code on assault when public
officials commit acts referred to in the Convention. Any public officials
committing such acts would, in addition, be sentenced for breach of
their official duties as referred to in chapter 40, section 10, of the
Penal Code, which would increase the severity of the penalty.
45. Resorting to general
provisions with a wide scope of application - and, consequently avoiding
special provisions where possible - has been the basic approach in reforming
the Finnish criminal legislation. An advantage of the approach adopted
by Finland is that it decreases the number of penal provisions and the
problems of interpretation caused by close and often overlapping penal
provisions. The basic approach has worked well in practice, and it has
not been considered necessary in Finland to change this approach.
46. Concerning the abolition
of preventive detention, the Government proposal in which the abolition
of legislation on preventive detention could have been included is still
under preparation and it is too late to give it to the sitting Parliament
before the election in the spring of 1999. The Ministry of Justice has
not taken a final stand on the issue of preventive detention.
47. Concerning the investigation
of offences allegedly committed by the police by an independent agency,
such investigations have been transferred from the police to the prosecutor.
In accordance with the new subsection 2 of section 14 of the Pre-trial
Investigation Act, the public prosecutor shall always be in charge of
the investigation of an offence allegedly committed by a police officer.
Petty offences constitute the only exception. The said subsection 2
entered into force on 1 December 1997. The Prosecutor-General in December
1997 designated the prosecutors who, where necessary, shall be in charge
of the investigation of an offence committed by a police officer. The
starting point is that the prosecutor in charge of the investigation
does not work in the same geographical area as the police officer suspected
of the offence in question.
48. Concerning the reinforcement
of the Office of the Ombudsman for Aliens and the establishment of an
office of a special human rights ombudsman, on 24 April 1998, the Ministry
of Labour set up a working group to prepare an extension of the sphere
of competence of the Ombudsman for Aliens as well as the transfer of
the Office of the Ombudsman from the Ministry of Social Affairs and
Health to the Ministry of Labour. The sphere of competence is proposed
to be extended to cover the supervision and promotion of the implementation
of the principle of non-discrimination with regard to all ethnic minorities,
not only with regard to aliens. The Ombudsman would thereafter be called
the Minorities Ombudsman. It has also been proposed that the powers
and the right to receive information of the Ombudsman be extended.
49. Concerning the return
of asylum seekers, as mentioned earlier, the fundamental rights provisions
of the Finnish Constitution Act were totally reformed by amendment which
entered into force on 1 August 1995. Section 7, subsection 4, of the
Constitution Act provides that no foreigner may be expelled, extradited
or returned if, on account of this, he risks the death penalty, torture
or other degrading treatment. The prohibition against return is meant
to cover all factual situations where a foreigner, as a result of measures
taken by Finnish authorities, is transferred to another State. The prohibition
also relates to a transfer to a State from where the person might be
extradited further to a third State and, in consequence thereof, be
under threat of death penalty or torture.
50. The Aliens Act contains
a corresponding provision under which no person may be returned, extradited
or expelled to an area where he may run the risk of becoming subject
to persecution or inhuman treatment. The prohibition against return
also concerns areas where no such danger exists but from where the applicant
might be sent to a risk area.
51. The Finnish Aliens Act
has been partly revised. The amendments entered into force on 1 January
1998. The Asylum Appeals Board, which earlier acted as the appeal instance
in asylum matters, was abolished and replaced by the District Administrative
Court of Uusimaa in Helsinki.
52. The asylum procedure
and the procedure for removal from the country were combined. The application
for asylum is decided by the Directorate of Immigration operating under
the Ministry of the Interior. If the decision on asylum and residence
permit is negative, the Directorate of Immigration decides on refusal
of entry at the same time. There are two different asylum procedures:
the normal procedure and the accelerated procedure.
53. Normal procedure.
A decision made by the Directorate of Immigration may be appealed to
the District Administrative Court. An appeal suspends the enforcement
of the decision. Anyone who is dissatisfied with the decision of the
District Administrative Court may apply for leave to appeal from the
Supreme Administrative Court. An application for leave to appeal suspends
the enforcement of the decision. The leave may be granted only if, in
view of the application of law in other similar cases or uniform legal
praxis, it is important to submit the case to the Supreme Administrative
Court for a decision, or if there are other weighty reasons for granting
a leave to appeal. If the Supreme Administrative Court refuses to consider
the matter, the decision can be enforced.
54. Accelerated procedure.
An application for asylum will be considered manifestly unfounded and
be processed according to the accelerated procedure in the cases where:
(a) The applicant does
not plead serious violations of human rights or other grounds relating
to prohibitions against return or fear of persecution for reasons of
race, religion, nationality, membership of a certain social group or
(b) The applicant aims
at misusing the asylum procedure;
(c) The applicant has entered
Finland from a safe country where he/she could have received protection
and where he/she can safely be returned; or
(d) The applicant can be
sent to another State that is responsible for the consideration of the
application for asylum in accordance with the Convention determining
the State responsible for examining applications for asylum lodged in
one of the Member States of the European Communities - Dublin Convention.
55. The decision of the
Directorate of Immigration on a manifestly unfounded application for
asylum made in an accelerated procedure is not final but has to be submitted
to the District Administrative Court for decision. The applicant has
a possibility to be heard before the decision is submitted. The County
Court with a composition of one judge may decide the matter. The decision
shall be made without delay.
56. In accordance with the
amendments which entered into force on 1 January 1998, the list of safe
countries of origin, i.e. countries which can be considered safe for
their own citizens, has been abandoned. The list of safe countries to
be compiled later this year will include only safe countries of asylum.
57. The Finnish policy on
foreigners was discussed in more detail in the thirteenth and fourteenth
58. Concerning the use of
a statement obtained under torture as evidence, as stated earlier, it
is illegal and punishable in Finland to obtain evidence under torture.
Our system of evidence is, however, strongly based on the principle
of the free weighing of evidence and the legislation does not include
any provisions expressly disallowing the use of evidence obtained through
prohibited means. A crime possibly related to the obtaining of evidence
or an act resulting in private-law liability for damages is handled
as a separate legal issue. Therefore, there is no express provision
even on the use of information obtained under torture. The inadmissibility
of such information is, however, self-evident in judicial practice.
It is also clear that in the weighing of evidence, information obtained
under torture does not constitute proof.
59. The new provisions on
criminal procedure, which entered into force on 1 October 1997, emphasizing
the oral and immediate nature of the judicial procedure, also have an
effect on the presenting of evidence in courts. In accordance with the
provisions (chapter 17, section 11 of the Code of Judicial Procedure),
the starting point is that a statement entered in the pre-trial investigation
record may not be used as evidence during the trial. This prohibition
naturally also applies to any statements possibly obtained under torture.
Emphasizing the principle of oral and immediate trial would, in practice,
make it impossible even to try to use a statement obtained under torture
as evidence in court. The witnesses have to be heard in court in the
immediate and oral main hearing.
60. Finland is still not
willing to incorporate into its legislation an express prohibition of
the use in court of a statement obtained under torture. Such a provision,
which is not expected to have any practical significance in our country,
would mean that our whole system of evidence should be re-evaluated.
In that case, also the use of evidence obtained in violation of different
other prohibitions to obtain evidence would have to be regulated with
express legislative provisions. An international comparison and experiences
from different countries indicate that problems are not solved by prohibitions
against the use of evidence but that they are more likely to increase.
Nor does the Convention against Torture expressly require the incorporation
of a prohibition into the legislation.
1. Table concerning the
prison population range in 1975-1997
2. Table concerning the
average number of remand prisoners and of imprisoned fine defaulters
3. Table concerning the
age groups of prisoners serving a sentence in 1976-1995 and in 1997
4. Table concerning the
principal offences of prisoners in 1976-1996 and 1997
5. Summary of the report
of the Finnish Parliamentary Ombudsman 1994
6. Summary of the report
of the Finnish Parliamentary Ombudsman 1995
7. Summary of the report
of the Finnish Parliamentary Ombudsman 1996
* These annexes may be
consulted in the files of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights.