Pre-trial investigation authorities
In Finland, the pre-trial investigation authorities responsible for the prevention of trafficking in human beings and crimes are the police and the Border Guard.
The Finnish Border Guard’s tasks are related to its role of guarding Finland’s borders and ensuring border safety. Due to its cross-border nature, human trafficking is also encountered at the Finnish borders. Victims may be brought to Finland for exploitation or transported through Finland to another country.
The police is responsible for carrying out most of the human trafficking investigations in Finland. All Finnish police departments carry out these investigations. In addition, the National Bureau of Investigation investigates human trafficking cases with an international dimension.
The Finnish law will apply even when a human trafficking offence was committed outside Finland, irrespective of the legislation in the place where the offence was committed.
The police may investigate a human trafficking offence that is suspected of having been committed abroad, if conducting the pre-trial investigation in Finland is appropriate for the purposes of the investigation and for implementing criminal liability. Such investigation requires a prosecution order issued by the Prosecutor General.
If necessary, the police and the Border Guard will work together to prevent an investigate trafficking in human beings.
Prevention of trafficking offences requires a range of competencies
Human trafficking and other similar crimes cannot be uncovered without sustained and effective investigations by the pre-trial investigation authorities, since the authorities rarely receive direct reports on such crimes.
The police pays particular attention to the possibility of human trafficking when they deal with customers who have become known to the police as a result of an investigation related to the selling of sex or use of unlicensed or otherwise illegal labour. The police will also take into account the possibility of human trafficking when they investigate alleged crimes related to arranging illegal entry or begging, and during the residence permit process and the asylum procedure.
The police also uncovers crimes through crime intelligence and observation, and through surveillance operations carried out in cooperation with other authorities.
Pre-trial investigation and use of coercive measures
If a case that has been brought to the pre-trial investigation authority’s attention shows signs of human trafficking, as a rule the act will be investigated as trafficking in human beings or aggravated trafficking in human beings. Human trafficking offences are so serious that, in practice, the pre-trial investigation will never be waived or discontinued.
There are no specific provisions regarding the pre-trial investigation of human trafficking offences. The provisions applied include the provisions given in the the Criminal Investigation Act (currently not available in English) on questioning and the provisions of the Coercive Measures Act on coercive measures (such as detention, travel ban, seizure, house search and secret coercive measures) to be used during the pre-trial investigation. In prioritising the pre-trial investigations, due to the nature of human trafficking offences the police will take into account the need to complete the criminal process as soon as possible.
Offence categories and cooperation with the prosecutor
In investigating human trafficking offences, but also pandering (procurement for prostitution) or extortionate work discrimination, the police will pay particular attention to the act, its circumstances and the position of the victim of the offence in order to uncover a possible human trafficking offence and to refer the potential victims to the Assistance system.
During the investigation, the police will also take into account acts that may fulfil the constituent elements of some other crimes. Such crimes include rape and assault that may have been uncovered during the investigation into a trafficking crime.
Cooperation with the prosecutor is crucial in order to guide the investigation of such cases in the right direction. If a human trafficking offence or similar is suspected, the police will always submit the report referred to in the Criminal Investigation Act to the prosecutor. The prosecutor’s legal expertise will be especially useful during the early stages of the investigation when the key directions of the investigation are decided. The prosecutor and the head of the investigation can agree already at this stage on which offences and offence categories are to be investigated, so that the choices will not exclude any options.
Pre-trial investigation authority must inform the victims of their rights
At the beginning of the investigation, the pre-trial investigation authority will inform the potential trafficking victims of their rights concerning:
support services (e.g. Assistance system for victims of human trafficking and Victim Support Finland)
- the victim's right to a lawyer
interpreting and translation
reimbursement of travel expenses and
information about the case handling during the criminal process.
The pre-trial investigation authority will conduct a personal assessment of the victim to find out any specific needs for protection and whether the victim will need special safety measures to be put in place for the pre-trial investigation and the court proceedings.
With the victim’s consent, the pre-trial investigation authority can refer the victim to the Assistance system for victims of human trafficking or other organisations. The victim should receive assistance while the pre-trial investigation is conducted because the processes support each other.
The pre-trial investigation authority may grant a reflection period to a victim who is staying in Finland illegally. The victim may then stay in Finland legally for a fixed period of time.