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Projects

Anti-trafficking action in Finland is not only carried out by the authorities but also through different projects. Some of the ongoing projects are presented below. Significant projects have also been carried out in the past. One example is the anti-trafficking initiative Askelmerkit dialogiseen tunnistamiseen (Indicators for dialogical identification), a project carried out by Pro-tukipiste, a specialist service promoting the rights of sex workers and victims of trafficking.

HOIKU

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is carrying out a project called HOIKU during the years 2017–2018. HOIKU stands for Healthcare and welfare of victims of human trafficking in Finland (Ihmiskaupan uhrien terveydenhoito ja hyvinvointi Suomessa), and the project is aimed at giving health and social workers better tools for early identification and service counselling of traf-ficking victims. The project is funded by the Finnish Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations (STEA). The project also aims to enhance social and health professionals’ skills in answering the special treatment and support needs of trafficking victims.

profiili-vasenThe first phase of the project is to prepare practical guidelines to be used within healthcare and social work for the early identification and service counselling of trafficking victims. The different forms of exploitation within human trafficking have several types of harmful and often long-term effects on the physical and mental health and welfare of the victims. Early identification is of great importance in helping victims of human trafficking. Another important element is help and support that takes into account the specific characteristics of human trafficking. Professionals and other actors within healthcare and social work have an essential role in this process.

During the second phase of the project, training will be arranged to enhance the skills of profes-sionals and other actors within health and social care in identifying and understanding trafficking in human beings as a phenomenon and its consequences for the victims’ health and welfare. In addition to this, the project indirectly aims to help strengthen co-operation and knowledge sharing between the different actors with the help of the project’s expert group and a multiprofessional approach.

IHME

The IHME project is coordinated by the Finnish Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking. IHME stands for Improving the operational preconditions for anti-human trafficking work in Finland (Ihmiskaupan vastaisen työn toimintamahdollisuuksien edistämiseksi Suomessa). The project receives EU funding from the Internal Security Fund (ISF-P) and is carried out during the period 1 September 2017 to 31 May 2019.

The aim of the IHME project is to strengthen anti-human trafficking action in Finland, to enhance expertise in identifying and helping the victims of human trafficking and in the pretrial investigation of human trafficking cases, and to promote equal treatment of the victims by public authorities.

profiili-oikeaThe IHME project seeks to promote anti-human trafficking work in three areas:

  • Training modules are being compiled on identifying and helping victims of human trafficking and on the pretrial investigation of the phenomenon. The training modules are intended for the Finnish pretrial investigation authorities (the police and the Border Guard). The training mod-ules are compiled in co-operation with the Finnish Border Guard, the Border and Coast Guard Academy, the National Police Board and the Police University College. Pretrial investigation authorities throughout Finland will also receive practical training during the project.
  • The key website providing information on human trafficking, www.ihmiskauppa.fi, is being redesigned to better serve the needs of the victims, the authorities and civil society.
  • A study is being conducted on child trafficking, and on the basis of the study, two training seminars on the theme will be arranged. The study will chart the current child trafficking situation in Finland and attempt to establish the extent of the phenomenon. The results of the study will be published in the beginning of 2019. The study is conducted in co-operation with the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control (HEUNI).

Report on functionality of legislation ensuring assistance to trafficking victims

In March 2018, Finland’s Non-Discrimination Ombudsman and the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control (HEUNI) published a joint report assessing the functionality of legislation for assisting victims of human trafficking in Finland. The report was prepared as part of the Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities (VN TEAS) for 2017.

An essential finding of the report was that trafficking victims do not always get the services that legislation entitles them to. According to the report, the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking operating at the Joutseno Reception Centre performs well both in its customer service and its co-operation with other authorities. However, the system of assistance does not reach all trafficking victims. Some of the victims are either not referred to or not admitted to the sphere of authority assistance. On the other hand, some victims refuse to accept authority assistance. The report finds that one essential reason for this is the strong link between the provision of assistance for the victims of human trafficking and the criminal proceedings, which is a result of the legislation and the application thereof.

profiili-vasenAccording to the report, the situation is particularly challenging in municipalities, where the social welfare and healthcare services are not familiar with the provisions of the Reception Act on assis-tance for victims of human trafficking, and the trafficking victims’ special status as beneficiaries of services is not realised. In municipalities where human trafficking is a more familiar phenomenon, the victims are assisted with a high standard of professional ethics, but still the victims of human trafficking do not always receive the services to which they would be legally entitled.

The report makes several recommendations, the most important of which are drafting a special act on assistance for victims of human trafficking, providing the municipalities with instructions on applying the act, and enhancing the operating conditions of NGOs. The link between assistance and criminal proceedings should also be loosened through legislation. This link seems to have been strengthened with the legislative amendment that entered into force in 2015. Even the rep-resentatives of the criminal justice system who were interviewed for the report expressed in their interviews that the assistance system should be able to assist the victims regardless of how the criminal proceedings progress.

The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman issued her recommendations based on the report to the Finnish Parliament in April 2018.