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Treatment of prisoners raises UN committee concerns

The United Nation's Committee against Torture has expressed concern about practices such as the routine use of handcuffs during prisoner transfers and reports of the use of tasers in police stations.

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Image: Kati Rantala / Yle

A periodic report filed in Geneva Wednesday by the UN's Committee against Torture raised a number of points that it calls upon Finnish officials to correct within the next year.

The report is critical of the lengthy detention of remand prisoners in police detention facilities which do not meet conditions for outdoor exercise and other meaningful activities.

The use of handcuffs during prisoner transfers as a "routine measure" is a practice that should be ended, while the use of restraint beds in police stations should be abolished, according to the UN committee. It also expressed concern at reports that electric discharge weapons (tasers) have been used by police officers on a number of occasions in closed environments such as police stations. These weapons, it says, should be used exclusively in extreme and limited situations where there is a real and immediate threat to life or risk of serious injury.

The committee report was also critical of Finland's 20 year statute of limitations on charges for the crime of torture, except in cases involving a war crime or a crime against humanity.

Among recent positive developments, it noted the adoption of a number of national and international human rights measures, as well as the designation of the Parliamentary Ombudsman as the National Preventive Mechanism, charged with monitoring practices in detention that could amount to ill-treatment.

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