The report noted that although there were positive developments with respect to anti-racism efforts in Finland, the Commission still had some concerns and felt that "visible minorities continued to be at risk of racial profiling by police".
The Commission put forward a host of recommendations, including expanding the remit of the Minorities’ Ombudsman to combat discrimination based on colour, language, religion or race; expanding the mandate of the National Discrimination Tribunal to deal with immigration and multiple discrimination matters and improving the monitoring of racist acts.
The ECRI noted in its report that despite a number of cases involving hate crimes, ethnic agitation and discrimination at work, "there are still few convictions on charges of racism and/or racial discrimination, as such cases are rarely brought before the courts, although these phenomena exist in Finland."
The organisation also argued that victims often believe that complaining to the courts is ineffective. The organisation called on Finnish authorities to ensure that local monitors closely study monitor the situation for evidence of discrimination on grounds of colour, nationality and language.
Charges of racist-motivated murders
The report also cited members of the Islamic community who claimed that racism-incited murders have taken place in Finland. The findings come as news to Finnish police and human rights activists.
“Although the Finnish authorities have informed that they are not aware of any murders committed with racist motives, representatives of the Muslim community have reported to ECRI that there have been racist murders, mainly committed by racist groups which publish hate messages on their websites,” the report stated.
Finnish police expressed surprise at the findings of the report, and noted that they had never worked on any criminal investigations concerning the death of any Muslims.
Päivi Mattila, Secretary General of the Finnish League for Human Rights told Yle that she had complete faith in the view of the Finnish authorities.
“I have the same understanding that we have not had any cases involving racist-motivated killings, and that such cases would have drawn convictions,” Mattila said.
Similarly, Mattila had not heard of any claims of racially-motivated killings from Muslims or Muslim minorities. "Rather there has been word of other types of hate crimes, which have been met with convictions,” Mattila added.
However the human rights activist said that it's important that the report did solicit information and opinions from a wide cross section of players.
“Especially when we talk about racist crimes, it would not make sense to seek feedback only from official sources. The voice of the civil society also brings healthy additional criticism,” she noted.
The wide-ranging report encouraged Finland to beef up the remit and resourcing of the Minorities' Ombudsman to bring matters before the court, including immigration cases, and to deal with complaints on grounds of skin colour, language, religion or “race”.
It also recommended that the Ombudsman for Minorities should be allowed to open local and regional branch offices.