COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered the thirteenth and fourteenth periodic reports
of Finland (CERD/C/320/Add.2), at its 1309th and 1310th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1309-1310),
held on 3 and 4 March 1999, and adopted, at its 1326th meeting (CERD/C/SR.1326),
held on 16 March 1999, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee notes
with appreciation that the State party has submitted a detailed and
comprehensive report which complies with the Committee's general guidelines
and addresses the different issues raised by the Committee in its
previous concluding observations. The Committee also appreciates the
additional information provided by the State party's delegation during
its oral presentation, as well as the constructive dialogue that the
Finnish Government maintains with the Committee.
B. Positive aspects
3. It is noted with satisfaction
that since the examination of its eleventh and twelfth periodic reports,
the State party has taken further measures to combat racial discrimination.
At the regional level, Finland has ratified the Framework Convention
for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe.
At the national level, a Ministerial Group on Good Ethnic Relations
and an Anti-Racism Committee have been established. The Council of
State adopted the Decision-in-Principle on Measures for Promoting
Tolerance and Combating Racism, which was preceded by the Action Plan
against Racism, as well as the Decision-in-Principle for the Government
Programme on Immigration and Refugee Policy. In addition, a new Act
on the integration of immigrants and reception of asylum seekers has
been drafted, as well as amendments to the Aliens' Act providing immigrants,
inter alia, with an extended right of appeal and facilitating
the reunification of families.
4. The large representation
of immigrant groups and traditional national minorities in the new
Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations as well as their participation
in the Commission against Racism, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism and Intolerance
is also welcomed.
5. The recent legislation
ensuring enjoyment by immigrant children of their right to education,
as well as the measures taken to facilitate education of immigrants
in their own language, are welcomed. Measures to facilitate the education
of the Sami and Roma people in their own language are similarly welcomed.
6. Preparations for the
establishment of the post of an Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination
to replace the Ombudsman for Aliens are also welcomed.
7. It is noted with satisfaction
that the State party shares many of the Committee's concerns and that
non-governmental organizations were given the opportunity to send
written statements for the preparation of the thirteenth and fourteenth
periodic reports of Finland.
C. Principal subjects of concern
8. Concern is expressed
at the growing number of racist acts occurring in the country, a fact
recognized by the State party itself. Despite this increase, in relatively
few instances have judicial proceedings been initiated with respect
to incidents of racial discrimination, including those in the labour
9. The Committee expresses
its concern that article 4 of the Convention is not fully complied
with, since there is no provision in the Finnish legislation prohibiting
and punishing organizations which promote and incite racial discrimination.
Moreover, the Penal Code contains no provision declaring any dissemination
of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred to be an offence punishable
10. It is regretted that
the question of land ownership of the Sami has not yet been settled
and that, as a result, Finland has not yet ratified ILO Convention
No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries.
11. Concern is also expressed
over the situation of immigrants and the Roma minority, particularly
with respect to housing, the high rate of unemployment and education
12. Incidents involving
denial of access to public places for some persons on the basis of
their ethnic or national origin, contrary to article 5 (f) of the
Convention, continue to be a matter of concern.
D. Suggestions and recommendations
13. The Committee recommends
the amendment of the Penal Code in order to fully implement article
4 of the Convention. The Code should, in particular, contain provisions
declaring illegal and prohibiting organizations which promote and
incite racial discrimination, as well as declaring the dissemination
of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, an offence punishable
by law. Due consideration should be given in this respect to the Committee's
General Recommendation VII relating to the implementation of article
4 of the Convention.
14. The Committee recommends
that the State party redouble its efforts towards the resolution of
the land dispute concerning the Sami as soon as possible, in a manner
that does justice to the claims of the Sami.
15. Additional measures
should be taken at the State and municipal levels to alleviate the
situation of the Roma minority and of immigrants with respect to housing,
employment and education.
16. In accordance with
article 5 (f) of the Convention, appropriate action should be taken
to ensure that access to places or services intended for use by the
general public is not denied to any person on grounds of national
or ethnic origin.
17. Efforts should be
made to increase the number of quota refugees. It is recommended that
the quota system be applied without discrimination based on race or
18. The State party is
requested to provide information, in its next periodic report, on
the extent to which members of vulnerable groups are in practice protected
from the forms of discrimination listed in the Convention. Information
should also be provided on cases concerning individuals who have been
prosecuted for acts of racism, including membership in or collaboration
with racist organizations or groups, as well as on compensation provided
to victims of racial discrimination, especially in the labour market.
19. Furthermore, the next
periodic report should also contain information on measures taken
and progress achieved concerning the implementation of the Decision-in-Principle
on Measures for Promoting Tolerance and Combating Racism.
20. The Committee invites
the State party to make its report and the Committee's concluding
observations and summary records thereon widely available in Finland.
The possibility of holding a seminar in this respect is welcomed.
The accepted individual communications procedure under article 14
of the Convention should also be widely publicized.
21. The Committee recommends
that the State party's next periodic report, due on 13 August 1999,
be an updating report, and that it address the matters raised in the
present concluding observations.