European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)



Independent counselling, legal advice and assistance to victims of discrimination


The Office of the Ombudsman for Minorities is an independent authority established by law on 1 September 2001, replacing the previous Office of the Ombudsman for Foreigners. The Office of the Ombudsman for Minorities works in connection with the Ministry of Labour and employs six senior officers and a secretary.


The main task of the Ombudsman for Minorities is to promote the status and legal protection of ethnic minorities and foreigners; the principles of equality and non-discrimination and good ethnic relations in Finland.

The jurisdiction of the Ombudsman only covers the supervision of ethnic discrimination: it does not cover discrimination based on language, sexual orientation, ideology or disability, which are the responsibility of other authorities in Finland.

The year 2004 brought forth legislative amendments: namely the new Equality Act and the overall revision of the Aliens Act. The Equality Act clarified the division of duties between the different authorities, entrusted the Ombudsman with a new, wide-ranging monitoring duty and essentially consolidated action against discrimination, adding to the possibilities of intervening in discrimination directed against ethnic minorities and to promoting equality in general. The Equality Act includes the shared burden of proof and makes it possible to bring cases before the Discrimination Board or courts for investigation, offering significant new possibilities for investigation alongside police investigation.


The grounds of discrimination covered by the Ombudsman for Minorities are racial and ethnic origin, which includes both traditional and new ethnic minorities in Finland. The duties of the Ombudsman include:

  • promoting good ethnic relations;
  • monitoring and improving the status and rights of ethnic minorities, foreigners and immigrants in society and safeguarding their rights;
  • monitoring the implementation of equality;
  • supervising the prohibition of discrimination according to ethnic origin and implementing the principle of equal treatment regardless of ethnic background;
  • taking initiatives, drawing up reports, proposals and recommendations and issuing public statements on discrimination based on ethnicity and the status and rights of foreigners and ethnic minorities in Finland;
  • developing co-operation between public authorities and organisations working in the field of combating and preventing ethnic discrimination.

For further information, a copy of the Annual Report 2004 in PDF format can be ordered via e-mail at

Independent counselling, legal advice and assistance to victims of discrimination 

The Office of the Ombudsman gives information and advice to the general public and the authorities on any matter falling within its mandate. Questions from the public cover a wide range of issues such as perceived discrimination in employment; the availability of social services; the application of the Alien’s Act.

The Ombudsman provides independent counselling and advice to victims of discrimination. The Ombudsman can provide both legal advice and assist the victim in reporting the incident to the appropriate authorities. If the Ombudsman considers a complaint as being of major importance for the prevention of discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin, he can help the victim by providing legal assistance.


Office of the Ombudsman for Minorities
Vähemmistövaltuutetun toimisto

Mikonkatu 4
P.O. Box 34
Tel.: +358 10 60 47048
Fax: +358 10 60 47002