Residence permit practices concerning victims of human trafficking are being reviewed
The Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment have ordered a review of the grounds on which victims of human trafficking are granted residence permits. The review will be conducted by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman acting as the national human trafficking rapporteur. The aim is to investigate how the Finnish Immigration Service applies the special regulation of the Aliens Act to the continuous residence permit granted to trafficking victims.
The review will examine the types of victims of human trafficking the Finnish Immigration Service has identified, what kinds of abuse the victims have endured and what their chances of surviving the abuse are. The examination will also cover how the Aliens Act has been applied in the processing of their applications and which factors have affected the interpretation of the Act. One central research question also concerns how the vulnerability of the trafficking victims has been recognised and evaluated on the basis of the Aliens Act.
The research subjects are the residence permit and asylum decisions concerning victims of human trafficking the Finnish Immigration Service has made in the period between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2020. The aim is to produce information, based on which the possible needs for legislation amendment and development of law application and interpretation practices can be assessed.
The Parliament has demanded the Government to find out whether there are legislative amendment needs related to the grounds for the residence permits of trafficking victims. For example, the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman has paid attention to the residence permit practices concerning victims of human trafficking, such as the high threshold for granting a continuous residence permit and the varying application practices. The preparations of the Government’s anti-trafficking action plan have also brought forward questions related to residence permits.
The review will support the Government’s work to prevent human trafficking
The research information produced by the review will also serve the sub-group of the development project of labour immigration set up by the Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen in March 2020. The sub-group will prepare measures with which the abuse of foreign labour can be better prevented, identified and combatted. The aim is also to review the conditions for a trafficking victim’s residence permit. The working group will utilise the research information when assessing whether there is the need to make amendments to the legislation concerning residence permit grounds or can the observations be affected in other ways, such as instructions or training.
The Government is committed to the prevention of human trafficking and the results of the review can be utilised in the efforts even more comprehensively. The Government Programme contains many items whose purpose is to enhance the prevention of human trafficking. The objectives include improved help for trafficking victims, faster identification and revelation of human trafficking, and fulfilment of criminal liability.
The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman is an independent authority that also acts as the national rapporteur of human trafficking. The duties of the national human trafficking rapporteur include the counselling and training of authorities, the management of the authorities’ operations and the making of surveys. It is the rapporteur’s duty to monitor the combatting of human trafficking in Finland and report the observations to the Government and Parliament.
The survey that is now in progress will be published in September 2021. Comprehensive research on the residence permit practices concerning victims of human trafficking has not been done before.
The Aliens Act contains a special regulation on the residence permits of trafficking victims
In 2006, due to the international and EU obligations binding Finland, regulations concerning the residence permit for victims of human trafficking that can be either temporary or continuous were introduced to the Aliens Act. The central objectives of the reformation were the prevention of human trafficking crimes, catching of the criminals and protection of the victims so that they would not become victims of human trafficking again.
Victims of human trafficking are granted a temporary residence permit, if the victim’s residency in Finland is justified due to the pre-trial investigation or court hearing of human trafficking, the victim is open to cooperating with the authorities in order to catch those suspected of human trafficking and the victim no longer has ties to those suspected of human trafficking.
A continuous residence permit is granted if the victim is in a particularly vulnerable position. In this case it is not required that the victim’s residency in Finland is justified due to a pre-trial investigation or court hearing or that the victim is open to cooperating with the authorities in order to catch those suspected of human trafficking.
Becoming a victim of human trafficking may also be a reason to grant international protection or a residence permit due to a personal humanitarian reason.
For more information, please contact:
Special Expert Roope Jokinen, MoI, [email protected], tel. 0295 488 362
Researcher Heini Kainulainen, NDO, [email protected], tel. 0295 666 821
Government Counsellor Olli Sorainen, MEAE, [email protected], tel. 0295 048 022