COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
31 July - 25 August 2000
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9
OF THE CONVENTION
observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee
considered the fifteenth periodic report of Finland CERD/C/363/Add.2),
at its 1403rd and 1404th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1403-1404), held on 1 and
2 August 2000. At its 1414th meeting (CERD/C/SR.1414), held on 9 August
2000, it adopted the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee
welcomes the detailed and comprehensive report of the State party, which
in an open and self-critical manner addresses the different issues raised
in the Committee's previous concluding observations. The Committee also
expresses its appreciation for the additional information provided in
oral and written form and for the frank and constructive dialogue with
the State party's delegation.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee
notes the legislative measures adopted by the State party with a view
to combating racial discrimination, including the new Constitution,
the new Act on the Integration of Immigrants and Reception of Asylum-Seekers
and the Personal Data Act, the amendment of the Aliens Act, and the
revision of the legislation concerning education.
4. The Committee
welcomes the efforts made by the State party to establish an institutionalized
system for protection against racial discrimination and promotion of
rights of minorities, mainly Sami and Roma.
5. The Committee
notes with interest the proposal for a governmental National Programme
of Action against Ethnic Discrimination and Racism in order to enhance
good ethnic relations and prevent ethnic discrimination and racism in
6. The Committee
welcomes the number of in-depth studies undertaken on ethnic relations,
in particular on Finnish attitudes towards immigrants, ethnic groups
and ethnic discrimination at work.
7. The Committee
notes with interest that anti-racist projects have been implemented
also at the regional and local levels, in particular the Finnish Romako
joint project to raise the education level of the Roma and prevent their
C. Concerns and recommendations
8. The Committee
notes the lack of a uniform terminology on discrimination in different
Finnish laws. In light of article 1 of the Convention and in order to
better combat acts of racism, the Committee recommends the adoption
of explicit anti-discriminatory legislation.
9. The Committee
reiterates its concern at the absence of a law prohibiting organizations
which promote and incite racial discrimination and of a provision in
the Penal Code declaring any dissemination of ideas based on racial
superiority or hatred punishable by law. The Committee urges the State
party to give due consideration in this respect to the Committee's-
42 -generalrecommendation VII relating to the implementation of article
4 of the Convention. The Committee also recommends that the State party
consider adopting provisions to increase the severity of sentences for
racially motivated crimes, in particular racial violence.
10. The Committee
is concerned that Roma continue to experience discrimination in the
fields of housing, education and employment. It also expresses concern
about reports that Roma are sometimes denied access to and service in
public places such as restaurants. The Committee recommends that the
State party take additional measures at the national and municipal levels
to improve the situation of the Roma minority, with a view to preventing
social exclusion and discrimination against them.
11. The Committee
regrets that the question of land ownership of the Sami has not yet
been resolved and that Finland has not acceded to Convention (No. 169)
concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries of
the International Labour Organization. Furthermore, it expresses its
concern about activities authorized by State bodies in Sami reindeer-breeding
areas which may threaten Sami culture and their traditional way of life.
The Committee urges the State party to pursue its efforts, together
with the Sami people, towards the adequate resolution of the land dispute,
giving due consideration in this respect to general recommendation XXIII,
and requests the State party to provide full information on this issue
in the next periodic report.
12. The Committee
expresses its concern that in some cases the new accelerated procedure
in the revised Aliens Act would result in the repatriation of an asylum-seeker
while his or her appeal was still pending. The Committee recommends
that the State party take all available measures to guarantee the legal
safeguards for asylum-seekers.
13. The Committee
is concerned about the fact that with respect to racially motivated
crimes, the police do not always intervene or its action is not always
appropriate and that prosecutors hesitate to initiate criminal proceedings.
It also notes that according to a 1999 study on attitudes of public
authorities towards immigrants, police and frontier guards have the
most negative attitude. The Committee recommends the continuation and
strengthening of training programmes for police and all law enforcement
officials and the improvement of communication between officials and
immigrants in order to enhance mutual confidence. In cases where police
officers are personally involved in racially motivated acts, it recommends
that an independent body investigate and invites judges and prosecutors
to be more active and firm in prosecuting these cases.
14. The Committee
notes with concern that immigrants, refugees and minorities, in particular
Roma, have higher rates of unemployment, have difficulties in gaining
access to housing and social services and have higher rates of school
drop-out. The Committee is concerned about the low number of judicial
proceedings initiated related to incidents of racial discrimination,
of discrimination in employment. The Committee recommends that the State-
43 –party take all necessary measures to alleviate the situation
of immigrants, refugees and minorities, in particular Roma, at the national
and municipal levels, especially with respect to housing, employment
15. In the
light of article 6 of the Convention, the Committee notes that the only
way of obtaining reparation or satisfaction for any damage suffered
as a result of an act of racial discrimination is through a penal proceeding.
The Committee recommends that the State party consider ensuring alternative
measures to penal proceedings in cases of discrimination.
16. The Committee
is concerned at the increasing number of racist acts. Also, it notes
with concern reports showing that a significant percentage of Finns
declare themselves to be racist or partially racist and are opposed
to the practice of Islam by immigrants (refugees). It notes also that
media often present immigrants and minorities, in particular Roma, in
a negative light. The Committee invites the State party to strengthen
measures to promote tolerance and combat prejudices, in particular in
the field of teaching, education, culture and information. It also recommends
that the State party find adequate modalities to make journalists and
people working in the media sector more aware of racial discrimination.
17. The Committee
further recommends that the State party take all necessary measures
to establish the Office of the Discrimination Ombudsman and to provide
the necessary human and financial resources to enable the Office to
carry out its tasks in an effective way.
18. The Committee
further invites the State party to ensure the wide dissemination of
the text of the Convention, as well as of the report and the concluding
observations adopted thereon. The accepted individual communications
procedure under article 14 of the Convention should be widely publicized
throughout Finland for the benefit of the general public.
19. The Committee
recommends that the State party's next periodic report, due on 16 August
2001, be an updating report, and that it address the points raised in
the present concluding observations.