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Human trafficking and its attendant abuse is considered one of the greatest challenges facing human rights today. Human trafficking is a serious offence and a violation of an individual's dignity and integrity. Human trafficking involves the abuse and control of another person.


Although internationally a majority of human trafficking is believed to be related to transnational migration, it is increasingly occurring within countries.  Contrary to popular belief, human trafficking is not necessarily related to organised crime, organising illegal immigration, illegal residence in a country or illegal employment. Many identified victims of human trafficking were legal residents within a country and employed legally. The perpetrators might be family, friends or acquaintances of the victim.





The main challenge facing anti-trafficking efforts is identifying the victims of human trafficking. The total count of victims that Finnish authorities and third sector actors have managed to identify numbers only in the tens. Human trafficking is a rare charge, even in preliminary investigations and courts.


Internationally speaking, one key reason for the low number of identified victims and human trafficking cases tried in a court of law is that the international definition of human trafficking and its national applications are difficult to apply and interpret in practical situations. Another reason is that human trafficking is confused with phenomena of a similar nature and victims are treated more like illegal immigrants, smuggled migrants, prostitutes or illegal workers than the abused victims of human trafficking.


The low number of identified victims can also be explained by the fact that human trafficking is an unreported crime. Both the perpetrators and victims make every effort to stay clear of official scrutiny. Victims may be afraid of reprisals from the perpetrators and be suspicious of the authorities. The threshold for seeking help is high, because the victims do not know their rights. In some cases, the victims have themselves participated in criminal or socially unacceptable activities and fear punishment and deportation. The threat of violence committed against victims and their family members by the perpetrators prevents victims from contacting the authorities. The cases of human trafficking which have come to the attention of the authorities and which have been positively identified as human trafficking are probably only a small fraction of human trafficking as a whole.


Proper identification is crucial for the victims of human trafficking. If the victims of human trafficking are not identified, their legal right to assistance and protection cannot be realized. Unidentified victims cannot be directed to the assistance system established for them or gain access to their other rights, such as the right to remain in the country as the victim of human trafficking. Remaining unidentified may lead to the victim being punished for participating in illegal activities or, for example, for illegal immigration. It can also lead to the eventual deportation of the victim, their continued abuse and/or revictimisation. Failures in identifying the victims also have a negative impact on the efficacy of crime prevention and other anti-trafficking efforts.





The anti-trafficking action plan contained a list of factors which can be considered indicators of human trafficking and which can be used in the identification of human trafficking situations and possible human trafficking victims.


The factors mentioned in the list are not, however, identifiers of human trafficking, nor does their simultaneous concordance, even when occurring frequently, necessarily indicate a case of human trafficking. The purpose of the factors in the list is primarily to serve as a trigger for identification measures to be taken or the impetus for further investigation.


Identifying the victim of trafficking (pdf) (132.7 KB)



Determining whether an individual is the victim of human trafficking can also be facilitated by asking the individual questions related to their work, working conditions and terms of employment as well as the situation of their family members. In terms of making an identification, the most informative data can be obtained by asking the following questions:


• Is the individual free to quit their job if they should so desire?


• Has the individual been abused physically, psychologically or sexually?


• Does the individual possess a passport or other form of identification?


• How much does the individual earn?


• How much does the individual pay in living costs?


• Does the individual live at home or at their place of employment?


• How did the individual arrive in the country and in which city/town?


• Have their family members been threatened?


• Does the individual believe that something bad might happen to themselves, their family members or other loved ones if they quit their job?




The victims of human trafficking are entitled to receive assistance and protection. In Finland, victims of human trafficking can receive assistance from the national assistance system for victims of trafficking coordinated by the Joutseno reception centre. This includes residential arrangements, social and health care services, legal advice and assistance, security arrangements and other support measures required by the victim.


The Joutseno reception centre is responsible for the administration of the system for victim assistance. It is able to help men, women, children, families, and groups of people.


Victims with a municipality of residence in Finland can receive the necessary basic services from their home municipality. Even in this case, the national assistance system for victims of trafficking can advice and guide the victim.


Even suspicion of being the victim of human trafficking is sufficient for being admitted to the assistance system. In some cases, also victims of similar crimes to human trafficking can be admitted to the system. These are aggravated prostitution, extortionate work discrimination, and aggravated arrangement of illegal immigration.



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Under Finnish law, human trafficking involves:


  • the sexual abuse of another person in a manner similar to the crime of prostitution

  • subjecting a person to forced labour or other demeaning circumstances

  • the removal of bodily organs for financial benefit.

    A key element of fulfilling the statutory definition of human trafficking is that the victim has been forced into, for example, prostitution, resulting from misleading information or the abuse of their dependent status or vulnerable state.  The victim is usually dependent on the perpetrator of the crime, who maintains this dependent status through illegal means, such as threats, violence or restricting liberty. Human trafficking is a crime against a person.


    In the Finnish Penal Code, statutes concerning human trafficking entered into force on 1 August 2004. Prior to this, offences of a similar nature were punished on the basis of sections concerning, among other things, prostitution and work discrimination.

    Under chapter 25(3 and 3a) of the Finnish Penal Code (9.7.2004/650), trafficking in human beings, aggravated trafficking in human beings and the attempted commission of either are punishable offences. Up to date legislation can be found at


    The penalty for trafficking in human beings is imprisonment for a period of no less than 4 months and no more than 6 years in duration. The penal scale for aggravated trafficking in human beings is imprisonment for a period of 2-10 years.  



    Crimes similar to human trafficking


    Suspicion of human trafficking may arise from something other than the actual crime of human trafficking. Crimes similar to human trafficking are aggravated prostitution, aggravated arrangement of illegal immigration and extortionate work discrimination. These types of crimes can be referred to as crimes similar to human trafficking. In terms of the overall human trafficking situation in Finland, it is important to compare suspected cases of human trafficking with society's ability to detect and prevent crimes similar to human trafficking.


    Aggravated prostitution can become human trafficking in cases where the victim has been misled into prostitution by, for example, being promised a well-paying job abroad or by being forced to continue against their will. Violence and coercive measures apparent in prostitution are most likely cases of human trafficking in Finland. There are strong prostitution links with neighbouring countries.According to an investigation conducted by Finnish police and prostitution reports published on the Internet, the Finnish prostitution market is mainly comprised of individuals from Eastern European countries.


    Arrangement of illegal immigration is not considered a crime against a person, but rather a crime against the state. The organizer of such an arrangement receives a fee from individuals who, of their own accord, want to enter a certain country illegally. The dependent relationship with the organizer usually ends after the individuals have reached the country of destination.


    Aggaravated arrangement of immigration is usually related to cases where the victims come from outside the European Union. Organised crime syndicates operating in several different countries are usually behind these crimes.


    Extortionate work discrimination involves a situation where the employer puts the employee in an extremely disadvantageous position by means of, for example, exploiting the employee's dependent status, ignorance or lack of understanding. In almost all cases, this involves foreign employees who are unable to demand their rights due to their ignorance, an inability to speak the language and dependency on the employer. The situation becomes more akin to human trafficking if the work is done in conditions that are extremely negligent in terms of occupational safety and health or that are demeaning to the individual. In some cases, the employee is forced to pay the employer or a representative of the employer thousands of euros in their home country in order to come to Finland to work. This obligation thus gives the employer control over the employee even before arriving in Finland.


    There are no indications of the organ trade existing in Finland.

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