Human trafficking is a common phenomenon also in the Nordic countries
The conference organised in Helsinki on 26 October 2016 addresses the common challenges shared by the Nordic countries in combatting human trafficking. Titled Nordic countries - a common market for human trafficking, the conference is part of the multi-year programme of the Nordic Council of Ministers to combat human trafficking. It is looked at from the perspectives of equality between genders, children and adolescents as well as from a legal standpoint.
Human trafficking is an aggravated form of abuse and a growing problem also in the Nordic countries. It represents serious cross-border crime; its actors see the Nordic countries as one market area. Extensive Nordic cooperation and exchange of information are needed to identify and help victims of human trafficking and to investigate and solve such cases. Therefore cooperation is of utmost importance between operators who work to prevent human trafficking.
The majority of victims are women, and a large number of them face harsh violence and abuse. Particularly human trafficking which targets women and children and subjects them to sexual abuse and prostitution has proved to be a phenomenon, which is difficult to identify.
"When a person has been identified as a victim of human trafficking is it vital to refer them to appropriate support without delay. Such victims are offered, for example, tailored social welfare and health care services and housing support. This is a way to help victims and prevent social problems which are caused by human trafficking", says Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Juha Rehula. Minister Rehula will chair the Nordic Council of Ministers for Gender Equality in 2016.
In recent years, competences and expertise have been developed to identify better victims of human trafficking. "A lot of clients have been referred this year to the Joutseno Reception Centre which coordinates the system of aid for the victims of human trafficking - their number has more than doubled. Finnish authorities and NGOs have cooperated in an exemplary and productive way in different parts of the country. As a result, Finland has a lot to give, also to other countries, in combatting human trafficking", says Minister of the Interior Paula Risikko.
Organised by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the conference is one of the events under Finland's Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Also the Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers Dagfinn Høybråten underlines regional cooperation.
"Regional cooperation is important so that we can prevent more effectively this type of modern slavery across borders. Through regional cooperation on the Nordic level we can improve measures to identify better the needs of women, men, girls and boys who have become victims of human trafficking. By taking specific measures the Nordic Council of Ministers creates platforms for cooperation", says Secretary General Høybråten.
Annamari Asikainen, Senior Officer, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 232
Senior Specialist Tero Mikkola, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 295 488 617.