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Government proposes legislative amendments to improve status of victims of human trafficking

Ministry of Social Affairs and HealthMinistry of the Interior
Publication date 20.10.2022 13.49
Press release

The Government aims to improve the status of victims of human trafficking and strengthen their right to services, regardless of the progress of related criminal proceedings in a human trafficking case. The purpose is to loosen the link between assistance to victims and criminal proceedings by amending the Act on the Reception of Persons Applying for International Protection and on the Identification of and Assistance to Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings. This is in line with the Government Programme. The Government submitted a proposal on the amendments to Parliament on 20 October.

The amendments would promote both the status of the victim and the interests of society as a whole: they would improve the detection of human trafficking, referral of victims to assistance, and thus also the enforcement of criminal liability. At the same time, the amendments would clarify legislation.

Under the current Act, the right of a victim of human trafficking to continue to receive assistance through the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking is largely connected to the criminal proceedings and the progress of the proceedings. For this reason, the right to assistance may cease, for example if sufficient proof of a human trafficking offence is not obtained, even if the person is in actual need of assistance. 

Continued assistance would be based on assessment of the victim’s individual situation

Provisions on the identification of a victim of human trafficking would be simplified so that identification would mean only the admittance of the victim to the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking, which is of key importance in terms of the realisation of the victim’s rights. In this way, the regulation on identification would be clearer and the legal effects of identification would be more predictable from the perspective of victims, authorities and parties assisting victims. The preconditions for admittance to the Assistance System would not be changed; instead, the threshold for admitting victims to the System would continue to be low.

The continuation of assistance provided through the Assistance System would primarily be based on an assessment of the victim’s individual situation, not on decisions made in criminal proceedings. In other words, the victim would have the right to receive assistance regardless of the initiation, continuation and outcome of the criminal proceedings insofar as the victim is considered to need assistance measures.

Acting as the national expert authority in matters related to the phenomenon of human trafficking and anti-trafficking work would be added to the duties of the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking. The Assistance System operates in connection with the Joutseno Reception Centre, and in addition to practical assistance work, it already does important expert work. Laying down provisions on this duty would enable further development of the activities.

Assistance for victims would become more effective in wellbeing services counties

In addition to being admitted into the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking, human trafficking victims will also receive assistance in healthcare and social welfare in the wellbeing services counties. 

The Social Welfare Act would be amended so that other forms of exploitation would be mentioned as grounds for the need for support for which social services must be arranged. Other forms of exploitation would include trafficking in human beings and related offences. The amendment would emphasise that the wellbeing services counties are also required to organise social services for victims of human trafficking that meet the service needs of such victims. Even in cases where such victims do not have a municipality of residence, which entitles them to a full right to the services of the wellbeing services county, they should nevertheless receive urgent health and social services. Other services for human trafficking victims who have no municipality of residence are provided through the Assistance System as part of reception services, for example.

Amendments could enter into force at the beginning of 2023

The proposals for the Reception Act were prepared by the Ministry of the Interior and the proposal for amending the Social Welfare Act by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

The amendments are intended to enter into force on 1 January 2023.


Roope Jokinen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 295 488 362, [email protected]
Berit Kiuru, Chief Specialist, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 295 488 283, [email protected]
Jari Keinänen, Director, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 311, [email protected]