The Human Rights Delegation calls on the Government to take action to protect human rights defenders at risk

Oct 10, 2022

Increasingly often, the defenders of human rights face serious danger in their work even in regions neighbouring Finland. In 2021, the EU Human Rights Defenders Mechanism saw an unprecedented increase in requests for urgent protective support from human rights defenders, the EU Commission stated last week. The number of requests rose by 23 percent compared to the previous year.

The Human Rights Delegation of the Human Rights Centre has been following with great concern how difficult it is for human rights defenders to receive protection from Finland in acute situations. Either they have no entry or the processes are slow and complicated.

Unlike countries such as Ireland or Germany, Finland does not have a specific visa procedure or, for example, a protection programme for providing temporary protection to human rights defenders. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has started the preparations on a humanitarian visa, which a human rights defender could use to enter Finland fast and flexibly. However, the process will probably be carried over to the next government term.

According to a recent study conducted by the European Parliament, the human rights obligations and visa policies of the EU member states are conflicting.

“Finland has internationally committed itself to protecting human rights defenders, and human rights defenders have been highlighted as a priority in Finland's human rights policy. We must now adhere to these commitments,” emphasises Sirpa Rautio, Chair of the Human Rights Delegation and Director of the Human Rights Centre.

The credibility of Finland's international human rights policy requires immediate action. In its statement, the Human Rights Delegation demands that the Government

  • develop a comprehensive model to support the human rights defender both in the country of origin and in Finland
  • secure the human rights defender's entry to Finland with a fast and flexible visa procedure, and
  • guarantee sufficient resources for protection.

The Human Rights Delegation is the Human Rights Centre’s broad-based cooperation body, whose permanent members are the supreme overseers of legality, the special ombudsmen and a representative of the Sámi Parliament. In addition, the members include researchers and representatives of NGOs. The situation of human rights defenders is one of the priorities of the influencing work carried out by the Human Rights Centre and its Delegation both in Finland and internationally.

Additional information

 Sirpa Rautio, Chair of the Human Rights Delegation, Director of the Human Rights Centre, +358 9 4321 (Parliament’s switchboard)

Susan Villa, Expert, Human Rights Centre, +358 50 341 2267

Human Rights Delegation and its members: