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Amnesty criticises women's support, refugee rights in Finland

In its annual report, the human rights NGO also criticised Finland's record on trans rights and recognising the Sámi people.

Kodittomat Moriasiirtolaiset nukkuivat bensa-asemalla 11. syyskuuta.
Finland's treatment of asylum seekers was criticised in the Amnesty report. File photo of migrants in Lesbos, Greece, 9 December 2020. Image: Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP

Human rights NGO Amnesty International has criticised Finland's record on domestic violence and asylum seekers' rights in its annual report on international human rights.

The report also highlighted growing inequality and the treatment of transgender people and conscientious objectors as areas of concern.

The 2020 Amnesty report focused on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on human rights around the world, saying it has "highlighted structural inequalities, particularly those affecting women, ethnic minorities, refugees, the elderly and health professionals."

"The world before us is in disarray. With the pandemic at this stage, even the most deluded leaders have difficulty denying the fact that our social, economic and political systems are broken," Amnesty Secretary General Agnès Callamard said.

Refugee rights lacking

The report reserved its harshest criticism for Finland's treatment of refugees, listing the detention of families with children, restriction of access to free legal representation and reduced time frames for appeals as particularly pressing issues.

"Family reunification of those who have received international protection from Finland is still very difficult and the rights of the child are not sufficiently taken into account in the processes," Amnesty said.

The NGO report also cites a case of a man who was reportedly killed after being deported to Iraq in 2017, although police investigators later found that the man was still alive. His daughter and her former husband received prison sentences in February for misleading authorities and the courts.

Gender-based violence

While the Amnesty report highlighted that domestic violence against women had grown worldwide during the pandemic, Finland received specific criticism for what Amnesty called a lack of long-term support for victims of sexual violence.

Finland's rape legislation was also highlighted as a problem, echoing a citizens' initiative that sparked moves to redefine rape in legal terms last year.

"In Finland, too, coronavirus has made structural inequality visible. During and after a pandemic, it is particularly important to invest in safeguarding human rights and dismantling unequal structures. The human rights impact of every political decision must be assessed at the municipal level, in legislation and in the state budget," Niina Laajapuro, Director of Human Rights at Amnesty International Finland said.

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