Assistance system has reached more than 1,000 victims of trafficking in Finland

Jutta Sasta MoinenHaving studied this issue with the European Immigration Network, he believes that a significant number of victims still lack the necessary support and that the phenomenon of trafficking is partially hidden from the authorities. According to a new survey, more than half of the victims of trafficking registered in EU member states are third-country citizens. In Finland, this number is up to 90%.

According to a recent study by the European Immigration Network (EMN), trafficking is a serious crime against individual liberty, and the most common forms in Europe are sexual exploitation and forced labor. Other forms of trafficking identified include forced participation in crime, forced begging, organ trafficking, forced marriage, and illegal adoption.

“Most of the customers guided by the Finnish support system have been exposed to forced labor. The second most common form of trafficking in Finland is sexual exploitation,” says Saastamoinen.

“Trafficking associated with labor exploitation is predominantly detected in the Finnish cleaning, restaurant, construction industry and, to some extent, the beauty and farming industries.”

According to Saastamoinen, the form of trafficking is highly gender-dependent. Statistics on victims of sexual exploitation and forced marriage overestimate women and girls, while men and boys make up the majority of victims of labor exploitation.

Not many victims have the courage to ask for help or know how to do it

Finland has effective structures and practices for identifying trafficking, and trafficking detection is becoming more and more effective. This is shown by a 30-fold increase in the number of clients directed to support systems for trafficking victims between 2010 and 2020.

“But some victims still lack the support they need, and the phenomenon of trafficking is partially hidden from the authorities,” says Saastamoinen. Detection of trafficking is important both in terms of helping victims and in terms of eradicating the phenomenon. According to Saastamoinen, this issue is currently of particular interest as the war in Ukraine has created an unprecedented influx of vulnerable people who may be exposed to exploitation and trafficking.

Victims always know and don’t always dare to ask for help. There are several possible reasons why a victim may or may not want to report a crime to the authorities, such as the victim not knowing his or her rights, limiting the victim’s right to self-determination such as free movement, fear or suspicion. Will be. Of the authorities, “says Saastamoinen.

On behalf of the authorities, the victim may first seek help from the organization. Pier MartillaCoordinating specialists at Victim Support Finland often see such cases in her work.

“Victims of trafficking who contact us are often afraid to seek help from the authorities at first because they are afraid of adverse effects on themselves and their loved ones. They are, for example, of the perpetrators. You may be afraid that an application for retaliation or assistance will lead to the loss of their right to housing or their family’s rights. Sometimes the fear may even be justified, but the victim’s fear is that the victim It may also be based on false information provided by the perpetrator in order to prevent asking for help. We are always trying to correct such false perceptions in your work. However, it can take a long time for customers to get the courage to go to the authorities in such situations, “says Marttila.

Fear of rufurment may prevent people from seeking help

One of the identified challenges is the high threshold for obtaining a residence permit for trafficking victims.

“Victims who are third-country citizens may find it particularly difficult to report trafficking to authorities if there is uncertainty about whether a residence permit will be granted. As a result of the initiation of the administrative process. , They may be returned to their country of origin, where they may be at risk of being in the hands of traffickers, “Saastamoinen adds.

“For example, victims of labor exploitation can lose their right to housing in Finland if they work based on exploitation. Without work, their income is not enough to earn a living. Employers can take advantage of the threat of losing their right to housing as a means of extorting victims. The legislative amendments that came into force in 2021 are victims of labor exploitation in such situations. We aim to improve our legal position, but we do not yet have enough time to establish the application process. “

Authority resources also affect the ability to investigate crime and the timeliness of the investigation. If the investigation is delayed, the perpetrator has time to hide his or her footprints. From the victim’s point of view, it is problematic that access to support is associated with criminal proceedings that the victim does not affect. This link between criminal procedure and assistance to victims is currently being considered in a legislative project established by the Ministry of the Interior.

The role of the organization as a bridge between the victim and the authorities is important and lowers the threshold for victims to report crimes. “Victims who are afraid of consequences can easily start by reviewing the situation, finding options available to seek justice and help, and communicating the situation to third-sector operators who can discuss how to do so. Asking for help can affect their situation and the situation of their family. The majority of customers report crimes or at least seek formal assistance. That’s it, “said Marttila of Victim Support Finland.

Although progress has been made in many parts of Finland, Saastamoinen estimates that one of the major problems is the under-identified trafficking associated with criminal activity. A common challenge to the overall trafficking phenomenon is that the authorities responsible for detecting trafficking and identifying and protecting victims can only function within limited resources and authority.

Trafficking is a problem that can be solved

The EMN National Report reveals that anti-trafficking efforts in Finland have made significant progress during the report’s observation period (2015-2020). The efforts of the authorities and the strengthened political will to prevent trafficking have resulted. However, there is still a lot to do.

Human trafficking is not an uncontrollable force of nature, but a social problem that can be solved. It can be prevented and stopped and can be affected.More and more victims are getting the help they need, “says the anti-trafficking coordinator. Ven Laros From the Finnish Ministry of Justice, and continues:

“The anti-trafficking job requires coordination and teamwork, and Finland is very ambitious in this regard. One of the classic examples is the new cross-cutting. Action plan for human trafficking.. “

Link to report:

European Transition Network Survey: Trafficking Third Country Victims: Detection, Identification, Protection

EMN-Survey-National Contribution from Finland: EMN Ihmiskaupan uhrien havaitseminen tunnistaminen ja suojelu 2022

Source: European Migration Network (EMN) Assistance system has reached more than 1,000 victims of trafficking in Finland

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