Human Rights Centre - Personnel

Name:

Sirpa Rautio

My place of work/post: 

Director of the Human Rights Centre, Chair of the Human Rights Delegation 

About me: 

I am a Master of Laws trained on the bench. I have served as the Director of the Human Rights Centre since 2012 and started my third term on 1 March 2020. 

I will serve as the Chair of the Management Board of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights until July 2020 when my five-year term ends. I represented the Human Rights Centre and the Finnish National Human Rights Institution in the Boards of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) between 2016 and 2019. I am currently serving as a member of the GANHRI Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, representing the Human Rights Centre. 

Before my return to Finland in 2012, I worked in the Nordic Trust Fund of the World Bank in Washington, and before that in human rights tasks in various international organisations. 

I have served in expert and managerial tasks in the Polish office of the UN Refugee Agency in Warsaw, in UN field operations in Sarajevo in the former Yugoslavia, in the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Warsaw, in the Office of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights in Strasbourg, in the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), and in the Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) in the Hague. Now, after more than eight years in Finland, I enjoy my work, in which I can use my experience and expertise that I have accumulated during my career. 

Special fields of my fundamental and human rights expertise and/or areas of interest:

Fundamental and human rights from a wide range of societal perspectives; relationship between the rule of law, democracy and human rights; international human rights organisations and the functioning of the human rights system; human rights as part of security, development, conflicts and crises.


 

Name:

Leena Leikas

My place of work/post: 

Expert at the Human Rights Centre and Deputy Director of the Centre, Secretary of the Human Rights Delegation, Chair of the ENNHRI Legal Working Group (since 2019).

About me: 

I am a Master of Laws trained on the bench. Expert at the Human Rights Centre since 2012. 

After court service and a stint in the Ministry of Justice’s Law Drafting Department where I dealt with EU issues involving criminal and procedural law, I moved to the Legal Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (now Legal Service). In this post, my tasks included drafting Finnish Government responses to appeals to the European Court of Human Rights, participation in negotiations and deliberations of working groups in the Council of Europe and the United Nations, and in periodic reporting. I have worked as a lawyer in the European Court of Human Rights, and in the Human Rights Review Panel’s liability and appeals mechanisms of the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX). During my leave of absence, I served for about three years in the Council of Europe Secretariat as an expert on fundamental and human rights monitoring, national minorities and persons with disabilities. I have also accumulated substantial expertise on the justice and home affairs of the EU Council and data protection issues of the Council of Europe. 

Special fields of my fundamental and human rights expertise and/or areas of interest:

I possess expertise on the monitoring of fundamental and human rights, content of the international human rights system and national human rights structures and their development, as well as on the tools and actors involved. I have specialised in such issues as minorities and minority languages, indigenous rights, violence against women, rights of the persons with disabilities, and such topical themes as security, technology, privacy and climate issues.


 

Name:

Sanna Ahola

My place of work/post: 

Expert at the Human Rights Centre

About me: 

I am a Master of Laws by training. For many years, I worked as a lawyer in an organisation representing the interests of the persons with disabilities in tasks involving legal matters, lobbying and training. From there, I moved to the Ageing, Disability and Functioning Unit of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare where I worked as a special expert for a few years. Since spring 2019, I have served as an expert on the rights of the elderly at the Human Rights Centre.

Special fields of my fundamental and human rights expertise and/or areas of interest:

I am particularly interested in the manner in which individuals and population groups are able to enjoy fundamental and human rights. Social rights are important in this respect but the same also applies to traditional civil and political rights. 


 

Name:

Susan Villa

My place of work/post: 

Expert at the Human Rights Centre

About me: 

I have a Master of Social Sciences degree from the University of Tampere. I had international relations as my major subject and specialised in conflict research. In addition to my major studies, I also took a degree in journalism.

I started work at the Human Rights Centre in spring 2019. Before my current post, I worked as an expert and writer in my own company. In that work, I also dealt with a wide range of different fundamental and human rights issues, such as the international human rights policy, equality and corporate responsibility. I prepared reports, policy briefs and influencing strategies for ministries, companies and other organisations. I have also accumulated experience on organisational work: for many years, I served as the Communications Officer and General Secretary of the Finnish League for Human Rights. In the early part of my career, I worked in the Tampere Peace Research Institute in a project focusing on the conflict in the Middle East.

Writing and journalism have always been an integral part of my work. I have worked as a journalist, managing editor and chief editor in Finnish and international media. 

Special fields of my fundamental and human rights expertise and/or areas of interest:

At the moment, my focus is on the rights of the elderly and corporate human rights responsibility. I am interested in a wide range of fundamental and human rights issues, such as the international human rights policy, the human rights system, rule of law issues, corporate responsibility and media freedom.


 

Name:

Mikko Joronen 

My place of work/post: 

Expert at the Human Rights Centre 

About me: 

I am a Master of Social Sciences by training. 

I have focused on fundamental and human rights issues throughout my work history. After serving eight years in the Finnish League for Human Rights, I took up a post in the Office of the Ombudsman for Minorities. A few years later, the Office was given new tasks and became the Office of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman. 

I have been working at the Human Rights Centre since 2016. 

Special fields of my fundamental and human rights expertise and/or areas of interest: 

Working jointly with the Parliamentary Ombudsman, I am managing a statutory special task involving the promotion, protection and monitoring of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). I am specifically responsible for promoting the rights of the persons with disabilities, national monitoring of the implementation of the convention’s obligations and reporting on the process, and engaging persons with disabilities and organisations representing them in the monitoring procedure. 

Throughout my work history, my focus has been on non-discrimination issues.


 

Name:

Katariina Huhta

My place of work/post:

Assistant at the Human Rights Centre

About me: 

I am a Bachelor of Business Administration and executive secretary by training. I started work at the Human Rights Centre on 24 April 2019.

Before that I was employed in a number of ministries as the secretary of their political leadership. At the Human Rights Centre, I am able to use and expand my expertise and networks. 

Special fields of my fundamental and human rights expertise and/or areas of interest:

In the past, my work was practically oriented but at the Human Rights Centre, I have been able to expand my core expertise by familiarising myself with the implementation and monitoring of children’s rights. My other responsibilities at the Human Rights Centre include administrative matters and taking part in the organisation of events.


 

Name:

Emmi Kupiainen

My place of work/post: 

Assistant expert at the Human Rights Centre.

About me: 

I hold a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree in International Law from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Before my graduation in November 2019, I lived in the Hague where I studied international and European law, specialising in international public law and human rights. I started work at the Human Rights Centre in May 2020, which means that I am the newest member of the team. Extensive monitoring of human rights and reporting on them are part of my work. 

I have also worked in the Central Finland District Court and carried out projects for the Human Rights Centre as an independent expert.

Special fields of my fundamental and human rights expertise and/or areas of interest:

I am interested in the range of tools used in the national implementation of the international human rights system. I am particularly interested in the impacts of climate change on human rights in Finland and globally.