Finland: protection against discrimination should be strengthened

Strasbourg, 25/9/2012 - “The Finnish Government has started a timely reform of the national equal treatment legislation. It is now crucial to ensure accessibility of the protection framework to all victims of discrimination and avoid unnecessary fragmentation of equality bodies” said today Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, releasing a report based on the findings of his visit to Finland carried out on 11-13 June.

The Commissioner welcomed the new National Action Plan on Fundamental and Human Rights, but pointed out that it lacked measures for human rights education. “The recently created independent Human Rights Centre and Human Rights Delegation should aim to fill in some of the gaps of the National Action Plan. It is important that these two bodies, which are going to constitute a National Human Rights Institution together with the Parliamentary Ombudsman, are provided with adequate resources and means to fulfil their extensive mandates.”

The Commissioner is concerned that a gender pay gap of 17.9% still remains, and that violence against women continues to be a serious problem. “The authorities should improve coordination in their responses to violence against women and extend the network of emergency shelters.”

Commissioner Muižnieks is particularly concerned about racist hate speech, also coming from certain politicians, and the extreme marginalisation of young Somali persons. “Further efforts are needed to address discrimination experienced by Roma, Russian-speakers and Somalis who face considerable obstacles in many fields of life, including employment.”

While welcoming the Finnish plan to deinstitutionalise persons with intellectual disabilities, the Commissioner recommends the prompt ratification of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and the involvement of disabled people in its monitoring.

The Commissioner also urges Finland to recognise Sámi rights to land and to reindeer herding in the traditional manner, and to ratify the International Labour Organization Convention No. 169 concerning indigenous peoples. ”The close participation of Sámi representatives in the ratification process is essential.”

Press contact in the Commissioner’s Office:
Stefano Montanari, +33 (0)6 61 14 70 37 ;

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