Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Finland

The Finnish Government has requested the publication of the report of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) on its visit to Finland in September 2003. The visit was carried out within the CPT's programme of periodic visits for 2003. It was the Committee's third visit to Finland.
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The CPT's delegation heard no allegations of recent ill-treatment of persons held in police establishments, and found no other evidence of such treatment. Police detention facilities were, on the whole, quite satisfactory for the initial 72 hour period of police custody; however, none of them offered suitable conditions for remand prisoners. The CPT has reiterated that remand prisoners should not, in principle, be held in police cells.

As regards persons detained under the Aliens Act, the CPT has highlighted a case in which medication having a tranquillising or sedative effect was administered in the context of a deportation procedure. The Committee has emphasized that the administration of medication to persons subject to a deportation order must always be carried out on the basis of a medical decision taken in respect of each particular case; this implies that the persons concerned must be physically seen and examined by a medical doctor. More generally, the CPT has recommended that detailed instructions be issued on the manner in which deportation orders concerning foreign nationals are to be enforced. These instructions should, in particular, address the use of force and/or means of restraint authorised in the context of deportation operations.

Concerning prisons, the CPT has drawn attention to the ongoing problem of inter-prisoner intimidation and violence. Further, it has called for measures to address the overcrowding which affected Kuopio Prison and - to an even greater extent - the former Turku Remand Prison. That said, in both establishments, prisoner accommodation was on the whole of an acceptable standard.

Living conditions and treatment offered to patients at Niuvanniemi Psychiatric Hospital were generally adequate. The CPT has nevertheless expressed the hope that determined efforts will be made to involve a greater number of patients in activities which correspond to their individual needs and abilities.

The report (in English) is available on the CPT's website: