Head of state
Tarja Halonen
Head of government
Mari Kiviniemi (replaced Matti Vanhanen in June)
Death penalty
abolitionist for all crimes
5.3 million
Life expectancy
80.1 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f)
5/4 per 1,000

Women were not sufficiently protected in law or in practice against violence. Unaccompanied children seeking asylum were detained. Conscientious objectors to military service were imprisoned.

Violence against women and girls

In May, the Ministry of Justice recommended amendments to the Penal Code regarding rape and sexual abuse, including that sexual intercourse when the victim is incapable of giving genuine consent, for instance because of illness or intoxication, should be categorized as rape. Despite these recommendations, rape continued to be categorized in law according to the degree of violence used or threatened by the perpetrator, and some acts of sexual violence were still only investigated and prosecuted if requested by the victim. Women, therefore, remained inadequately protected from rape and other forms of sexual violence.

In August, the CEDAW Committee reiterated its concerns regarding the use of mediation procedures in domestic violence cases. It noted that such procedures could potentially lead to the re-victimization of women who have suffered violence and that insufficient research had been carried out on the effects of mediation on domestic violence court proceedings.

In September, the government adopted the National Action Plan 2010-2015 to reduce violence against women. However, no additional state funding was granted to implement the plan, raising concerns that it would not be adequately resourced.

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Refugees and asylum-seekers

The Asylum Act continued to provide for an accelerated asylum procedure, which allows for the expulsion of an asylum-seeker while their appeal is pending. Consequently, a number of asylum-seekers were denied effective appeal.

Finnish law continued to allow for the detention of children seeking asylum, including unaccompanied children. In 2010, at least 17 children, four of whom were unaccompanied, were held in detention. Due to the lack of facilities, a number of asylum-seekers were detained in unsuitable facilities, including police stations and prisons.

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Justice for crimes under international law

In June, François Bazaramba, a Rwandan national residing in Finland, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the District Court of Itä-Uusimaa for committing genocide in Rwanda in 1994. During the proceedings, allegations were made that several witness testimonies had been obtained directly as a result of torture by the Rwandan authorities. The Court determined that, to ensure a fair trial, it would disregard the testimony of two witnesses, after finding that it was likely that their evidence had been obtained through torture or other ill-treatment. The judgement was appealed and proceedings were ongoing at the end of the year.

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Prisoners of conscience

Conscientious objectors to military service continued to be imprisoned for refusing the alternative civilian service due to its punitive and discriminatory length. The length of alternative civilian service remained at 362 days, more than double the most common military service period of 180 days.

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Human rights by region

World regions Midde East and North Africa Asia Pacific Europe and Central Asia Africa Americas


A number of countries in Africa celebrated the 50th anniversary of their independence during the year while others prep ...


In the Americas many human rights have been recognized in law, if not always in practice, over the past 50 years. Whi ...

Asia Pacific

In a region with almost two thirds of the world’s population, stretching a third of the way around the planet, ...

Europe & Central Asia

The right to truth and justice, and the determination of victims and their relatives to achieve this how ...

Middle East and North Africa

2010 dawned with Yemen an unusual focus of international attention following an alleged terrorist ...

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