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Finland: Victims of human trafficking rise sharply

Those receiving aid in Finland as victims of human trafficking grew with a hundred more new entrants in 2017, reaching a record 300 people, according to Finnish media.

Published: February 1, 2018, 10:58 am

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    Helsinki

    The number of clients in the Finnish aid system, the Hufvudstadsbladet daily reported, increased dramatically in 2017, reaching a record number of people. There may even be more victims of sex-related human trafficking as they often remain unidentified.

    The rise in the number of victims come as a result of the increase in the number of asylums seekers.

    “One big concern is that we are too bad at recognizing and detecting trafficking in human beings involving sexual exploitation in Finland. The proportion [of the cases detected] is eye-catchingly small,” Venla Roth, Senior Inspector at the National Trafficking Rapporteur’s Office at the Discrimination Ombudsman’s agency, said.

    Katri Lyijynen, senior inspector of the aid system for victims of human trafficking under the Finnish Migration Board, explained that in most cases, the trafficking has taken place outside of Finland.

    Both Roth and Lyijynen blamed this on the lack of police resources and insufficient detection methods by law enforcement. Of the 177 cases reported last year, only 10 came were alerts to the police, while 80 cases was registered with the Migration Board.

    “Those who sell sex in Finland are not necessarily in contact with any authority, and then they are not likely to come into contact with a police or auxiliary system,” Roth said.

    An internal report revealed that of the 177 applications received in 2017, 127 were given aid, and 70 percent of them were asylum seekers.

    The majority of the cases included forced labor and sexual exploitation, while forced marriages and other kinds of trafficking were less frequently noted. The majority of victims came from Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria and Iraq.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Ukraine also featured on the list. Overall, with more female than male victims.

    Although most the cases involving human trafficking occurred outside Finland, an alarming 37 percent of cases were actually reported in Finland. Again, the most common cases involved forced labor and sexual exploitation as the most common types of human trafficking noted.

    Another challenge that remains is the gathering of evidence on human trafficking. In cases where such crimes was carried out abroad, the burden of proof seems almost insurmountable.

    Domestic cases, on the other hand, are much easier to investigate, Lyijynen said.

    There are however growing problems that arise from the administrative classification system, suggesting that the person may no longer be eligible for help depending on how the crime is classified, despite having been the victim of serious offences.

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