The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination welcomes the various legislative reforms and action plans aiming at the abolition of racial discrimination. Especially mentioned are extension of the Act on the Promotion of Integration to cover all immigrants, revision of the Non-Discrimination Act, the new Act on the reception of persons seeking international protection as well as amendments to the Penal Code and the National Policy on the Roma. The Committee also noted the intention to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries during the term of the current Government, as well as negotiations on the Nordic Sámi Convention.
The Committee adopted its concluding observations on the combined 20th to 22nd periodic reports of Finland on 31 August, after having held an oral consultation with the Finnish delegation during the 81st session of the Committee in Geneva on 23 and 24 August 2012 .
The Committee recommends that in connection with the ongoing revision of the Non-Discrimination Act, the law could be amended so as to state more clearly that the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity also pertains to transactions between individuals. More attention should be paid to hate and racist speech on the Internet and data relating to the prevalence of racial hate speech on the Internet should be collected. Moreover, awareness-raising campaigns targeting young people, the media and politicians should be intensified.
The Committee also recommends that the decision-making powers of the Sámi Parliament should be increased with regard to the cultural autonomy of Sámi, including rights relating to the use of land and resources in areas traditionally inhabited by them. The State party should, among others, take appropriate measures to protect the Sámi traditional livelihood of reindeer husbandry. Further, the Committee recommends that, in defining who is eligible to vote for Members of the Sámi Parliament, the Sámi people should be given the right to determine their own status and membership of the Sámi community.
In addition, the Committee recommends measures to ensure that Sámi children throughout the country receive effective education in their own language, including also the training of Sámi language teachers. Moreover, the availability of social and health services in Sámi languages should be effectively ensured to Sámi people in their homeland. Finland should accelerate the adoption of the revitalization programme proposed by the Ministry of Education and Culture in order to promote and protect the Sámi languages in the media, education, social and health services and culture..
The Committee recommends that measures be taken for the effective implementation of the National Policy on the Roma, so as to attain concrete results regarding their integration into the labour market and housing. The education of Roma children and the teaching of the Romani language should be promoted.
As to immigrants, the Committee recommends the promotion of understanding and tolerance among different ethnic groups in the country. The Committee recommends that concrete measures to implement the Act on the Promotion of Integration be taken and that the Government Programme for integration for 2012–2015 be approved, in order to foster the integration of immigrants with regard to employment, housing, education and social and healthcare services. The Committee further recommends that effective measures be taken to prevent the bullying of Roma and immigrant children.
With regard to asylum seekers, the Committee recommends that alternatives to detention be used whenever possible. Asylum seekers should not be detained in police facilities. The Finnish government should provide adequate funding to municipalities for the provision of housing to successful asylum applicants. As to the use of accelerated procedures in asylum cases, care should be taken to eliminate any risk of refoulement of persons entitled to asylum.
The Committee asks to receive additional information on issues concerning the Sámi, immigrants and asylum seekers within one year. Finland will submit its next periodic report in August 2015.
Additional information: Head of Unit Arto Kosonen, tel. +358 9 1605 5729 or Counsellor Jaakko Halttunen, tel. +358 9 1605 5713, Unit for Human Rights Courts and Conventions of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, email@example.com