Submission: The Human Rights Centre assessed the Government’s interim report on the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence


In 2020, the Committee of the Parties to the Istanbul Convention issued several recommendations to Finland for strengthening the implementation of the Istanbul Convention. In February 2023, Finland submitted an interim report on the status of the implementation of the recommendations to the Committee of the Parties. The Human Rights Centre proposes a total of 18 recommendations for strengthening the implementation of the Istanbul Convention.

The Human Rights Centre emphasises the importance of paying attention to intersectionality in the prevention of violence against women to ensure that the phenomenon is combatted comprehensively. The Human Rights Centre points out that especially violence against people with disabilities is not recognised and their experiences of violence are not taken seriously.

The Human Rights Centre is concerned about the fact that the Ministry of Justice has not succeeded in advancing explicit criminalisation of female genital mutilation. In addition, explicit criminalisation of forced marriages has still not been assessed, in spite of it having been recorded in the Government Programme.

Finland does not comply with the obligations of the Istanbul Convention in terms of the spaces in shelters for victims of domestic violence, in addition to which the geographical coverage of the shelters is still not sufficient, especially in the Sámi homeland. For this reason, the Human Rights Centre recommends that Finland guarantee the number of accessible shelter spaces required in the Istanbul Convention across the country.

“Violence against women is one of the most serious and wide-ranging human rights problems that Finland has made efforts to tackle in the past few years. However, despite progress, the activities have not been determined and ambitious enough. The Istanbul Convention plays a huge role in securing human rights and Finland must comply with the obligations laid down in the Convention,” says Sirpa Rautio, Director of the Human Rights Centre.

The roles, responsibilities and tasks of municipalities, wellbeing services counties and central government in combatting domestic violence must be clarified. The Human Rights Centre therefore requires binding measures to be taken to improve the structures of work preventing domestic violence and to clarify the responsibilities between different actors, for example, by means of legislation.

The Human Rights Centre is of the view that the Government must ensure that criminal cases related to violence against women have to be investigated thoroughly and without delay to safeguard the human rights of the victims.

Serious challenges are related to mediation in cases of domestic violence and the Government must address them immediately. Although recurring domestic violence should not be referred to mediation, it continues to happen. The Human Rights Centre recommends that the Government assesses the powers of the police to refer cases to mediation.

“Organising necessary services for victims and eliminating violence against women requires permanent financial resources. However, this will pay for itself in the end, as physical intimate partner violence against women causes additional costs of at least EUR 150 million per year,” Rautio points out.

Background and further process

The Committee of the Parties of the Istanbul Convention will discuss Finland’s report and the statements submitted to the Committee in relation to the report during spring 2023. The Committee of the Parties will adopt its conclusions on Finland’s implementation of the recommendations in its next meeting in June 2023.

The Istanbul Convention is the first European human rights convention focusing on the rights of women. The Convention looks at violence against women and domestic violence from the perspective of human rights.