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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination examines the report of Finland

Committee on the Elimination 
  of Racial Discrimination    

26 April 2017

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the twenty-third report of Finland on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Introducing the report, Krista Oinonen, Director of the Unit for Human Rights Courts and Conventions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, underlined the challenges faced by Finland in 2015 when the number of asylum-seekers had increased considerably.  Nevertheless, Finland had shown solidarity within the European Union by receiving asylum seekers from Greece and Italy as part of the relocation mechanism.  The Government had adopted a new integration programme in September 2016, which focused on using immigrants’ cultural strengths to enhance Finnish innovation capacity, better their integration through cross-sectoral measures and increase cooperation between the State and municipalities in the reception of beneficiaries of international protection.  A recent study had revealed a strong need for information and for peaceful, matter-of-fact discussion about asylum issues.  The Government also intended to revise the Act on the Saami Parliament and to negotiate with the Saami Parliament to better comply with the concept of free, prior and informed consent.  As for addressing hate speech and hate crimes, the challenge was to determine which cases fulfilled the essential elements of an offence. 

In the ensuing dialogue, Committee Experts highlighted the situation of the Saami people, including issues concerned the definition of the Saami people, eligibility to vote for members of the Saami Parliament, and their rights to use land and resources in their homeland areas.  They observed a regression with respect to humanitarian protection of asylum seekers in Finland, as well as rapid refoulement of immigrant children and families.  Another issue of concern was a discrepancy between the number of reported and prosecuted hate crimes.  Experts also expressed concern about rising intolerance, especially discriminatory speeches delivered by several politicians and party functionaries.  They inquired about the protection of minority languages and provision of education in those languages, reliable statistics on the number of minorities, and the ratification of international treaties protecting the rights of migrants and indigenous peoples, namely those treaties that protected the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain their traditional way of life.

In his concluding remarks, Gun Kut, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Finland, commended the readiness of Finland to comply with the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  He noted that the Committee would compare the situation in the country in 2012 with the current situation. 

In her closing remarks, Ms. Oinonen thanked the Experts for having asked many pertinent questions and expressed hope that the commitment of the Finnish Government to zero tolerance for racial discrimination was evident. 

Anastasia Crickley, Committee Chairperson, commended the commitment, honesty and openness of the Delegation to the dialogue.

The delegation of Finland included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

The Committee will next meet in public on Wednesday, 26 April, at 3 p.m. to consider the combined tenth and eleventh periodic report of the Republic of Moldova (CERD/C/MDA/10-11).
 
Report

The twenty-third periodic report of Finland can be read here: CERD/C/FIN/23.
 
Presentation of the Report

KRISTA OINONEN, Director of the Unit for Human Rights Courts and Conventions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, noted that in 2015 the number of asylum-seekers in Finland had increased considerably and had been nearly tenfold compared with the previous year: it had risen from 3,600 to around 32,000 asylum applications.  It was the fourth biggest in Europe in relation to population.  Despite the increased number of asylum seekers, Finland had shown solidarity within the European Union by receiving a total of 1,340 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy as part of the relocation mechanism.  In September 2015, Finland had established a registration centre in Tornio near the Swedish border and it had registered more than 16,000 asylum seekers through the registration centre during its operation in 2015 and 2016.  There were now 126 centres with 16,000 residents and approximately 3,700 asylum seekers had private accommodation.  The Government had adopted a new integration programme in September 2016, which focused on four areas: using immigrants’ cultural strengths to enhance Finnish innovation capacity; enhancing integration through cross-sectoral measures; increasing cooperation between the State and municipalities in the reception of beneficiaries of international protection; and promoting a humane national discussion culture that would not tolerate racism. 

As for persons residing illegally in Finland, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health had prepared recommendations to municipalities for the provision of urgent social and healthcare services to those residing illegally in the country.  The recommendations provided further clarification with regard to the available services, the responsibilities related to providing such services, and compensation for the costs arising from those services.  In April 2017 the Ministerial Working Group on Immigration had adopted an Action Programme for the Prevention of Illegal Entry and Stay for 2017-2020, which would be monitored by the Civil Service Working Group on the Prevention of Illegal Immigration.  Since February 2017 the law provided for a new precautionary measure, namely the obligation of an alien to stay in a certain reception centre.  That measure aimed at reducing the use of detention on one hand, and promoting the smooth running of the asylum procedure and ensuring the removal of unsuccessful applicants from the country on the other hand.  The new measure reduced the need to detain minors and it had a positive impact on the position of children and the implementation of their best interests.  Social and health professionals working in reception centres for asylum seekers had been trained to identify mental health problems and to give first aid to persons in need. 

Speaking of the general attitude towards asylum seekers, a study had been commissioned from the University of Vaasa and its most significant finding was the strong need for information and for peaceful, matter-of-fact discussion about asylum issues.  In February 2016 the Government had appointed the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations for the sixth four-year term, whereas the Ministry of Justice had launched a project, TRUST, to promote good relations between different population groups in seven localities where asylum seekers were staying.  In September 2016 the Government had adopted a proposal to efficiently intervene in future hate speech before any more serious consequences emerged.  The challenge in addressing hate speech was to determine which cases fulfilled the essential elements of an offence.  In April 2016 the Government had adopted a national Action Plan for the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Extremism.  Automatic text analysis to recognize hate speech had been introduced and the material collected had been analysed by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman to determine whether it contained hate speech.  There were no plans to amend the Criminal Code with respect to extremist movements or hate speech.  However, the need to amend the Assembly Act was being assessed. 

Ms. Oinonen explained that the delegations of Finland, Norway and Sweden had achieved a preliminary result in the negotiations on a Nordic Saami Convention at the end of 2016.  The Convention, negotiated jointly with representatives of the three Saami Parliaments, enhanced the status of the Saami as an indigenous people and strengthened and consolidated their rights and cross-border cooperation.  The signature of the Convention by a State party had to be preceded by the approval of the Saami Parliament.  In November 2014, the Government had submitted to the Parliament a proposal to accept the International Labour Organization Convention 169 concerning indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries.  The consideration of the proposal had been deferred to the next electoral term.  The Government intended to revise the Act on the Saami Parliament pursuant to a proposal submitted during the previous electoral term.  The Government would renew its proposal to alter the obligation of authorities to negotiate with the Saami Parliament to better comply with the concept of free, prior and informed consent.  The Government’s proposal to amend the Saami Language Act had been sent for commentaries in January 2017.  In 2015 the Government had initiated a key project aimed at a fundamental change in the service system for children and families in order to better plan, manage and integrate services across administrative borders and between different actors and to decrease disparities in the health and well-being of children from different backgrounds.  Studies had been carried out to map the needs of Roma children, Swedish-speaking Finns, and Saami families. 
 
Questions by Rapporteur

GUN KUT, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Finland, commended the State party as a “very disciplined student,” noting that the consultation process with civil society had been respected.  However, the core document still dated back to 1997 and an up-to-date core document was still expected by the Committee to better understand the situation in the country.  An almost two-year gap had to be discussed during the session.   Mr. Kut underlined the lack of data on the composition of the population.  The actual number of Saami speakers was larger than officially reported.  It would be possible to come with better statistics to reflect the diversity of the current Finnish society, and to better understand and evaluate the current situation of racial discrimination.

Mr. Kut raised two issues with respect to national human rights institutions: the Office of the Ombudsman and the availability of resources for all national human rights institutions.  The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) had only been partially satisfied with the powers, human and financial resources of those institutions.  There were complaints that the Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal did not have sanctions to apply.  As for the Non-Discrimination Act, there were still concerns about the effectiveness of legal provisions regarding incitement of hatred on the Internet. 

As for the situation of the Saami people, issues concerned the definition of the Saami, eligibility to vote for members of the Saami Parliament, and their rights to use land and resources in their homeland areas.  The decision of the Supreme Administrative Court to add 93 additional voters to the voting registry for the Saami Parliament remained problematic as it, understandably, caused fear among the Saami people that assimilation would take place by way of elections.  Even the smallest change to the number of eligible voters would tremendously change the political balance.  Another outstanding issue was the education of Saami children outside the Saami homeland.  Unless they had access to education in their mother tongue, they would lose their identity.   The reduction of Saami salmon fishing rights, land and resource rights, and the right to self-determination were key issues.  Was there political will to address those problems?  What kind of realistic results could be expected from planned measures?

With respect to the situation of the Roma communities, it was time for the State party to evaluate the effectiveness of relevant policies, programmes and projects.  Extensive research and analysis was required.  What was the situation of the Roma community in 2017, as compared with 2012?

Speaking of immigrants and asylum seekers, Mr. Kut raised the issue of the marginalization of immigrants, bullying in school, alternatives to detention of asylum seekers, and their overall situation since 2015.  He underlined all the restrictions linked to the anti-immigration agenda, notably the removal of the protection on humanitarian grounds.

As for the ratification of international treaties, Mr. Kut asked for more information on current debates within the Parliament.  What were the results of the Action Plan of Violent Radicalisation and Extremism?  He raised the issue of independence of the Office of the Special Ombudsman. 

Referring to the attitude change towards minorities in Finland, Mr. Kut inquired about concrete measures taken and concrete results achieved.  The 2020 strategy on creating a tolerant and diverse Finland with increased international competitiveness was not specific enough. 

The National Policy on Roma of 2009 was a textbook example of a strategy, but the Committee sought more information about its concrete results.  How did various anti-discrimination strategies link with each other?

He requested clear-cut information on racist violence and statistics on police investigations and prosecution of such cases between 2012 and 2017 in order to observe a trend.  

Questions by Experts

An Expert recalled the internationally accepted definition of indigenous peoples, reminding of their own cultural patterns, legal systems and institutions.  A lot of tension had been observed between the Government of Finland and the Saami people with respect to the definition of the Saami people.  It was of paramount importance for the Saami people to maintain access to land and water in order to preserve their traditional way of living.  He warned that the anti-Saami sentiment in the country could lead to racism.  Almost 70 per cent of the Saami people did not live on their land and could, thus, not exercise their right to traditional fishing.  What measures would the State party adopt to expedite the implementation of the International Labour Organization Convention 169?  As for the services provided in the Saami languages, the high national literacy rate could be promoted in the Saami language as well.

As for the future Nordic Saami Convention, Experts expressed hope that it would help preserve the Saami culture and identity.  The Russian part of the Saami people should not been marginalized.  Who were the “original people” and how did they refer to the Saami people?  The Finnish Constitution protected the rights of the Saami people to traditional fishing and herding.  However, the Saami people expressed fear that hidden expropriation endangered their traditional rights.  What was the State’s attitude in light of the Saami people’s opposition to the current bilateral agreement between Finland and Norway?   

Another Expert raised the question of the employment of minorities and the double discrimination of minority women.  Some 54 per cent of the Roma who had applied for jobs in 2014 reported discrimination during recruitment.  He underlined the importance of providing vocational training for the Saami people, as well as State subsidies for reindeer herding.  

Speaking of hate speech and crimes, an Expert welcomed the measures to combat hate speech taken so far.  How did victims report hate crimes?  Was there data on hate speech on the Internet?  What was the coordination between the police, prosecutors and victims?  How was hate speech condemned by the Government and officials?  Was there data on the number of administrative sentences for hate crimes?  What were the causes for the recent great increase in hate crimes in Finland?  How was the effectiveness of training on hate speech and crimes for police measured?  

Another Expert reminded that 5.7 per cent of the Finnish GDP was devoted to foreign assistance.  However, he warned that the influx of people of different cultures could lead to a rising intolerance, even in Finland.  Several politicians and party functionaries had recently engaged in discriminatory speech, especially anti-Muslim speech.  Two thirds of the Finnish population expressed a view that racism was present in the Finnish society.   

Experts observed a regression with respect to humanitarian protection of asylum seekers in Finland, as well as rapid refoulement of immigrant children and families.  The situation of refugees and asylum seekers was the single most important issue to be discussed by the Committee.  Which left-wing extremists and anarchist movements mentioned in the State party’s report were potentially dangerous? 

An Expert underscored the importance of providing concrete data on various Government measures.   How many persons of African descent were living in Finland, and in which sectors were they employed?  How many of them were returned from the border when they tried to enter the country?  How many were accepted as refugees and how many had their asylum applications pending?  How many were in detention? 

What specific policies were in place to implement the Decade of the Persons of African Descent, and the Durban Declaration and the Plan of Action?

One Expert asked for more information about the autonomy of the Åland Islands, whereas another Expert reminded about threats against Swedish speakers on those islands and of the 13 cases of ethnic discrimination with no legal proceedings.  Counselling was done by phone.  It seemed as if ethnic discrimination had been banalised.  Had any of the 45 recorded racial crimes been prosecuted?  

What was the legal position of the Finnish and Swedish languages across the country?  Were both languages on an equal footing, or did one of them have a prevalent status?  What was the Karelian language and what was its importance in the Finnish linguistic system?  Was there a requirement to speak Finnish or Swedish in public? 

In 2014, some 16 per cent of the prison population were foreigners, whereas prisoners of African descent had been held in closed quarters with limited participation in prison activities.  What were the reasons behind that practice? 

With respect to the law to combat discrimination, was Finland entertaining the reversal of the burden of proof?  The State party’s policy on combatting racial discrimination through education was interesting. 

What was the impact of climate change on the Saami people and what role was granted to them in that context?

How successful was the State party in securing the adequate number of Roma teachers?  What was taught in Roma and Saami languages?  How were children taught about respect for diversity and human rights?  How did disciplines themselves help in multicultural education?  How inclusive was the curriculum?  What was the access to tertiary education for the Roma, Saami and people of African descent? 

Out of the 5.5 million Finns, there were 300,000 persons of foreign origin.  A significant number was Russian speaking and Somali.  How could the significant presence of the Somali people be explained? 

Was there a law prohibiting female genital mutilation?  As for the integration programme to employ immigrant women, what services did it provide?  Were there any statistics on the detention of migrants and asylum seekers?
 
Presentation of the Finnish National Human Rights Institution

LEENA LEIKAS, Finnish Human Rights Centre, said that the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, the Saami Parliament and various civil society organizations had submitted their contributions to the report.  Most of the issues raised dealt with hate speech and discrimination, the rights and treatment of minorities and refugees, rights of the Saami people.  The Universal Periodic Review process would also reveal those issues.  Despite increased training and legislation, and actions by many independent actors, the situation had not improved.  The visibility of hate speech and its effects kept growing.  Many submissions showed concern about increased discrimination despite numerous laws.  Recent changes in policies included protection for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.  They had negative effects on minors and families.  The lack of definition of the Saami status had a negative effect on their lives.  The Finnish Human Rights Centre also stressed the need for holding human rights education and training in the Finnish education system in order to promote tolerance.  More education resources had to be made at all levels and to all professionals. 
 
Replies by the Delegation

KRISTA OINONEN, Director of the Unit for Human Rights Courts and Conventions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained that the Government fully supported periodic reporting, and expressed regret that it had not managed to submit an updated core document.  It was still work in progress.  Participation of civil society in the drafting of the report had become an established practice 20 years earlier.  The Government was encouraging civil society to submit their reports directly to the United Nations bodies in order to better reflect their views.  Every Ministry in Finland had a human rights focal point and they formed a network.  The network enhanced dialogue on human rights issues and facilitated the flow of information among Ministries.  The network also reviewed the concluding remarks by the Committee, and would monitor the implementation of the Action Plan for Human Rights 2017-2019. 

The collection of disaggregated data was allowed only for statistical purposes, and not to collect personal information.  The number of the Saami people was assessed according to the number of those who declared Saami as their mother tongue, or according to the number of those registered as eligible to vote for the Saami Parliament elections.  African descent was not used as a concept by the Government. 

The ratification of the Convention on migrant workers and their families was not deemed as expedient.  The treatment of migrant workers was not different from the treatment of other citizens in the country.  As for the autonomous status of the Åland Islands, it was a prime example of how autonomy could be extended over time.  The status of the Swedish language was enshrined in a specific act of the Assembly of the Åland Islands.  One seat in the Finnish Parliament was reserved for a representative from the Åland Islands.  The right of domicile in the Åland Islands ensured that the land remained in Åland ownership, and reported threats against Swedish speakers concerned only the mainland, and not the Åland Islands. 

It was explained that there were some 5,100 speakers of the Karelian language as a mother tongue.  In 2009, the Government had included the Karelian language within the scope of minority languages.  A special subsidy had been made in 2017 to revive the Karelian language and culture. 

The impact of climate change on the Saami people would happen sooner than in other parts of Finland.  The Finnish environment strategy recognized the negative effects of the climate change on the people living in the Artic.  The Saami Parliament and the Saami Educational Institute were members of the Advisory Board.  The Saami representatives were always invited to Finnish participation in climate change discussions at the United Nations level. 

With respect to anti-discrimination legislation and mechanisms, the Minority Ombudsman had been replaced by the new Non-Discrimination Ombudsman in 2015 and had a much wider mandate.  He now dealt with all cases of discrimination.  All anti-discrimination offices and mechanisms were independent.  The Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal could issue conditional fines.  There had been over 400 discrimination cases, out of which 203 were cases of discrimination based on ethnicity.  The discrimination monitoring system made a report every four years.  The national human rights institutions of Finland focused on the promotion of human rights.  Additional funding was made to them in order to be able to monitor the implementation of relevant laws and conventions. 

Finland was developing evidence-based policies, including in human rights.  A study was commissioned on human rights indicators and published in 2016.  A rights barometer would be launched in 2018, while the second Action Plan on Human Rights focused on equality. 

As for hate speech and hate crimes, the data system was being renewed and in several years better statistics on hate crimes would be available.  There were no statistics on assaults with a racist motive, for example.  Indeed, there could be more cases than records showed at the moment.  The amendments of the Criminal Code in 2011 made the content of the provision on hate speech clearer.  There were plans to organize trainings on hate speech and hate crimes on an annual basis.  In September 2016, the Government had allocated additional funds to the police to fight hate speech and hate crimes, especially online hate speech.  The Police Hate Speech Investigation Team had been established to investigate online hate speech.  Around 40 per cent of the hate crimes were cases of online hate speech. 

The delegation stated that the effects of the refugee crisis in Europe had led to attacks on reception centres.  It was important to have more information about the background of such crimes, even though the police had not found evidence of the radical rightist movements being behind them.  The prevention of violent extremism would target all forms of extremism, both left-wing and right-wing.  The Action Plan to Prevent Illegal Migration and Residence included recommendations on the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, such as the ban of ethnic profiling by the border police.

Education and training on human rights had been implemented in all school curricula.  Education providers drew up their own education plans based on the national curriculum.  The underlying fundamental premise was that school work should be safe and favourable to all persons’ development and, thus, free of bullying.  The long-term goal was that Finland would become a home to people of different backgrounds and languages.  It was, therefore, committed to combatting hate speech and racism, and to strengthening multiculturalism. 

The Government had adopted a revitalization programme for the Saami language and there had been a significant increase in funding for the instruction of the Saami language and learning tools.  A budget had also been earmarked for school instruction in the Roma language and other minority languages.  The Saami Educational Institute provided vocational training and degree programmes in the Saami language.  The Roma language had a status of a language of instruction in primary, secondary and vocational education.  Around 85 per cent of the Roma resided in municipalities that provided education in the Roma language.  However, the challenge was early school drop-out rate among the Roma.

There were some 10,000 Roma living across Finland, but the figure was only an estimate.  The key outcomes of the policy on Roma were better education and resources for Roma activities, and better communication with the Roma and more of Roma-focused studies.  The majority of Roma continued their education through vocational programmes.  The overall housing situation for Roma was good, but it was still problematic in some municipalities.  The employment of Roma was another big challenge, which was why a new programme would focus on education and employment. 

Female genital mutilation was prohibited by the Penal Code of Finland, and the Government was not aware of any cases of female genital mutilation in the country.  Nevertheless, the Action Plan on Sexual and Reproductive Health contained provisions on the prevention of female genital mutilation.    

The delegation assured that Committee that the Government of Finland was strongly committed to enhancing the participation of indigenous peoples within the United Nations.  The Nordic Saami Convention built on a long traditional of Nordic cooperation.  At the moment, there was no decision on how to proceed if the Saami Parliament did not accept the Convention.   The Government aimed to strengthen the participation of the Saami in political life, reinforce their self-determination and participation in the use and management of renewable resources in the Saami homeland.  The definition of Saami was a complex issue and needed to be prepared in close consultation with the Saami Parliament.  The Government would decide whether it would continue the ratification of the International Labour Organization Convention 169.  With respect to the agreement on the Deatnu River Valley, there was no decision to freeze the agreement with Norway. 

In 2015, there had been approximately 32,000 asylum applicants in Finland.  The largest number came from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Albania.  Many changes in the Finnish asylum laws thus reflected a need for a streamlined asylum process.  The core of the system, however, stayed the same and Finland remained committed to help those in need.  The applicants’ need for international protection was assessed on an individual basis.  All applicants who had received a negative decision had a right to appeal.  Those who were not granted a residence permit were asked to leave the country.  As of 2016, residence permits were no longer granted on humanitarian grounds, which was previously not Finland’s international obligation.  The Government’s strategy on preventing illegal migration and residence sought to improve employment opportunities for migrants. 

The first Somali asylum seekers had come to Finland through Russia in the 1990s, and many of them had received residence permits on the basis of family ties.  The term “alien” referred to persons who were not Finnish citizens.   

Final Round of Discussion

GUN KUT, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Finland, reminded that the new Non-Discrimination Act did not list skin colour as one of the grounds for discrimination.  It also did not directly deal with employment issues.  Would the Government consider their incorporation in future?

Mr. Kut criticized the fact that there was no budget for the implementation of the Second National Action Plan, as well as the Government’s statement that the measuring of outcomes of various anti-discrimination policies and programmes was difficult, noting that additional efforts should be made.  Reliable statistics on racist violence should be available in order to implement monitoring and follow-up.  The small number of court cases could indicate a lack of prosecution, police investigation or reporting. 

The delegation explained that the integration programme in Finland was aimed at enabling immigrants to adapt to the new environment and to maintain their culture.  The lack of linguistic skills and attitude of employers were some of the factors that presented obstacles to the employment of immigrants.  The new Non-Discrimination Act, thus, aimed to promoted diversity and non-discrimination in workplace.  The Non-Discrimination Act did, in fact, cover the employment issues, whereas skin colour was covered in a broad manner. 

In 2013, a study on access to justice confirmed that victims of crimes turned to non-governmental organizations for help.  Some reported that they had been bounced from one authority to another.  The results of the study had been presented to the authors of the second Non-Discrimination Act.  The reporting of hate crimes among the police had improved due to the provided training.  However, there was room for more improvement. 

KRISTA OINONEN, Director of the Unit for Human Rights Courts and Conventions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, clarified that there was both national and European Union funding of the Second National Action Plan through different projects.  The implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was closely followed by the Government.  There was no particular follow-up plan on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  Instead, it was done through separate actions. 

An Expert raised the issue of the lack of a specific budget for the implementation of the revival of the Saami language, as well as the Saami decision-making power in the management of forests and land.  What was the current Saami prison population in Finland?  Several Experts highlighted the need for supporting the learning of the Saami language outside the Saami homeland, as well as the need to allow the Saami to determine on their own who the Saami were.    

The delegation clarified that the constitutional rights of the Saami people included the right to maintain their language and culture.  Out of some 10,000 persons, around 2,000 Saami had registered Saami as their mother tongue.  The budget for the implementation of the revival of the Saami language was part of the budget of the Ministry of Education and Culture.  There was a legal basis for Saami language instruction outside the Saami homeland, in the municipalities where it was not specifically provided. 

In the past seven years, there had been a steady rise in the number of foreigners in Finnish prisoners, due to the current context in the European Union.  In 2016, 16 per cent of the prison population had been foreign.  There was no specific data on the number of the Saami in prisons, the delegation explained.

Responding to Experts’ questions about the reporting and prosecution of hate crimes and hate speech, the delegation explained that the discrepancy in the number of reported and prosecuted cases was due to the different methodologies of classification employed by various Government agencies.  The amount of hate crimes and hate speech had increased. 

Concluding Remarks
 
GUN KUT, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Finland, reminded that the new Non-Discrimination Act, commended the readiness of Finland to comply with the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  He noted that the Committee would compare the situation in the country in 2012 with the current situation.  He stressed that the spirit of cooperation would advance the common fight against racial discrimination.   

KRISTA OINONEN, Director of the Unit for Human Rights Courts and Conventions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, thanked the Experts for having asked many pertinent questions and expressed hope that the commitment of the Finnish Government to zero tolerance for racial discrimination was evident.  It was hoped that in 2025 Finland would become a country in which people of various background could live and prosper together.  “Together” was the motto of the centennial celebration of the Finnish State.

ANASTASIA CRICKLEY, Committee Chairperson, commended the commitment, honesty and openness of the delegation to the dialogue, and their careful consideration of the Committee’s questions.  She also thanked the representatives of the Saami and civil society for their contributions.

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