1. The Committee considered
the fourth periodic report of Finland (CCPR/C/95/Add.6) at its 1659th
and 1660th meetings, held on 1 April 1998 and it adopted the following
conclusions at its 166th meeting, held on 6 April 1998.
2. The Committee welcomes
the fourth periodic report of Finland, and notes its timely submission
and thorough discussion of issues in accordance with the Committee's guidelines.
The Committee also acknowledges the comprehensive oral responses by the
high-level Finnish delegation.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee notes with
appreciation Finland's actions to advance human rights since consideration
of its third periodic report in October 1990. Foremost among these developments
are Finland's ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant
in 1991, the reform of the Finnish Constitution in 1995 to incorporate
the provisions of the Covenant and other human rights instruments into
the Constitution and to extend the application of fundamental rights to
non-citizens as required by article 2(1) of the Covenant.
4. The Committee welcomes
the recent reform of Finnish criminal procedure which, inter alia,
ensures that detainees are brought to court without delay, and have the
right to speedy trial and communication with family and counsel. Also
welcome is Finland's withdrawal of its reservation to article 9(3) of
5. The Committee notes with
satisfaction the recognition in the Constitution of the Sami and Roma
people and of their rights along with other groups to develop their language
and culture. The Committee welcomes the existence of Advisory Boards for
both Sami and Romani Affairs, mandated to advance the interests of these
minority populations, and the right of Samis since 1992 to communicate
with the authorities in their native language and to be consulted through
their representatives on matters affecting them closely. It also welcomes
that primary and secondary education level students may be taught in their
mother tongue of Sami or in Romani.
6. The Committee commends
the efforts to promote racial tolerance by the establishment of the Parliamentary
Ombudsman, the Chancellor of Justice, the Ombudsman for Aliens, and the
Advisory Board for Refugee and Migrant Affairs, as well as the implementation
of a human rights curriculum in the schools.
7. The Committee notes with
satisfaction the recent efforts to safeguard the well-being of women and
children in domestic abuse situations by the establishment of nationwide
crisis centers and shelters and the treatment of men who abuse, as well
as legislation to outlaw rape in marriage in 1994 and new measures to
combat trafficking in women and children.
8. The Committee welcomes
the implementation of the Aliens Act in 1991 and other legislative measures
which broaden the criteria for the issuance of residency permits, create
procedures for review of deportation decisions and give the Ombudsman
for Aliens a role in these proceedings, and give alien residents the right
to vote in local elections.
9. The Committee welcomes
the action taken by Finland to disseminate information about the Covenant
and to consult with NGOs about the Report.
D. Subjects of concern and Committee recommendations
10. While noting that a recent
reform of the Penal Code makes punishable the violation of several rights
and freedoms, including those protected by articles 21 and 22 of the Covenant,
the Committee is concerned that criminal law may not alone be appropriate
to determine appropriate remedies for violations of certain rights and
freedoms. It recommends that the Finnish authorities continue to give
priority to positive measures and to civil processes which are able to
determine issues of compensation or other remedies, especially in cases
11. The Committee notes that
the proposed Sami Act, by which forests within the Sami homeland would
be turned into commons owned by the Sami villages, has not passed the
Parliament and that the issue of land rights of the Sami have not been
12. The Committee notes that
"important" U.N. and European conventions are translated into Sami languages
and disseminated to the Sami, and recommends that efforts should be made
to provide to the Sami and Roma minority printed texts of all available
human rights documents, translated into the Sami and Roma languages, where
13. While recognizing the
State's efforts to extend the prohibition of sex discrimination and achieve
equality, particularly in the workplace, the Committee remains concerned
at the continuing disparity in remuneration between the sexes and the
relatively low proportion of women in higher levels of the public service.
Further efforts are necessary to reduce these differentials.
14. The Committee regrets
the continuing de facto discrimination against members of the Roma minority,
especially in the area of private housing, employment and services; it
recommends that government agencies be trained to intervene positively
to help to overcome racist attitudes and to initiate proceedings where
any pattern of discrimination is identified.
15. The Committee expresses
concern at its understanding that, after due notice, a person charged
before the Finnish courts with certain offences may be tried in absentia,
if his or her presence was not necessary, and sentenced to a fine or up
to three months imprisonment with no possibility for retrial after 30
days. The Committee considers that unless the person has clearly agreed
to this procedure and the court is fully informed of the offender's circumstances,
this method of trial could raise questions of compatibility with article
14(3)(d) and 14(3)(e) of the Covenant. The Committee suggests that this
procedure be reviewed.
16. The Committee expresses
serious concern over the increase in negative attitudes and de facto discrimination
toward immigrants among some of the Finnish population, and also of instances
of violence. While appreciating Finland's acknowledgment of the situation
and the steps Finland has taken to minimize the problem, the Committee
recommends that further positive measures be taken to overcome discriminatory
and xenophobic attitudes and prejudice, and to foster tolerance.
17. The Committee notes that
the reservations entered by Finland upon ratification of the Covenant
with respect to articles 10(2)(b), 10(3), 14(7), and 20(1) are still in
force and recommends that consideration be given to the withdrawal of
18. The Committee expresses
its continuing concern that there is still legal provision for preventive
detention of certain convicted persons ("dangerous recidivists") to be
determined by the Prison Court and recommends that early consideration
be given to implementing the current proposals for the reform of indefinite
imprisonment as outlined in paragraph 52 of Finland's fourth periodic
19. The Committee notes with
concern that Swedish speaking persons do not always have the possibility
of using their language in dealing with authorities and recommends that
possibility be put into practice.
20. The Committee is concerned
that asylum seekers and aliens with irregular status are held in public
prisons and police detention places pending inquiry as to their status
and recommends implementation of the proposal to establish separate areas.
21. The Committee reiterates
its concern, expressed during the consideration of Finland's third report,
that Jehovah's Witnesses are granted by domestic law preferential treatment
as compared with other groups of conscientious objectors and recommends
that the State Party review the law to bring it into full conformity with
article 26 of the Covenant.
22. The Committee recommends
that the laudable efforts already made in connection with the promotion
of greater public awareness of the provisions of the Covenant and the
Optional Protocols should be further pursued and that appropriate publicity
be given to these Concluding Observations.