Multipronged action needed to curb human trafficking
15 Aug 2018, 10:41
The number of victims of human trafficking increased significantly in Finland in the first six months of this year.
A recent Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) report says a total of 76 new clients have entered the Finnish Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking in January to June. The number was 55 in the corresponding period of 2017 and 45 in that of 2016. It’s obvious that the number of victims entering the Finnish Assistance System has been on a gradual ascent in recent years.
According to Migri, 30 of the victims of this year came under exploitation indicating human trafficking in Finland. Out of them 12 were victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. The number of victims of sexual exploitation is considerably higher this year than that in the previous years: eight such cases were identified in 2017, and in 2016 the number was only four.
Migri said the number of victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation may in reality be considerably higher in Finland. Meanwhile, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) has criticised Finland for its failure to identify victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation efficiently enough.
Out of those who had become victims of human trafficking in Finland, 10 were suspected to be trafficked for labour exploitation and four for forced marriage. Almost a quarter (18) of the 76 victims of this year had fallen prey to human trafficking in their home countries, although the exploitation may in some cases have continued abroad.
The Finnish authorities have taken a number of measures to help the victims. For example, if the victims wish, the authorities help them return to their home countries, providing them with legal aid and legal advice. But it does not reduce the frequency of the crime. Although there is strict law in place against human trafficking, it appears to have no significant impact on the rise of the crime. According to the existing law, any attempt at human trafficking, human trafficking, and aggravated human trafficking are punishable crimes in Finland. The punishment is two to 10 years of imprisonment. But human traffickers appear to be nonchalant as it is really very difficult to identify such cases and prove them in the court.
Moreover, in many cases abroad, people become victims of human trafficking on their own volition in order to enter Finland. But they disclose it after their arrival, when conflict of interest takes place between the victims and the traffickers. Otherwise, it is really difficult to identify incidents of human trafficking.
The majority of cases of human trafficking are believed to be related to escalating international migration. Against this background, the authorities may intensify monitoring on immigration. But to effectively reduce the number of real human trafficking victims, the authorities may raise awareness among people outside the country through international forums. The Finnish missions abroad as well as the European Union and the United Nations may conduct awareness-raising campaigns internationally to save people from slavery.