Concluding Observations of the Committee against Torture
COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
8-19 November 1999
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 19 OF THE CONVENTION
Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture
51. The Committee considered the third periodic report of Finland (CAT/C/44/Add.6) at its 397th, 400th and 402nd meetings on 11, 12 and 15 November 1999 (CAT/C/SR.397, 400 and 402) and adopted the following conclusions and recommendations.
52. The Committee welcomes the third periodic report of Finland, which was submitted on time and is in full conformity with the Committee's guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports. The Committee also welcomes the fruitful and open dialogue between the experienced representatives of the State party and itself.
2. Positive aspects
53. The Committee notes with satisfaction the following:
(a) The Act on the Enforcement of Sentences;
(b) The amendment of the Mental Health Act and the Act on State Mental Hospitals;
(c) The amendment of the Military Discipline Act;
(d) The reform of the Finnish public prosecution system;
(e) The measures taken to improve prison conditions for Roma and foreigners;
(f) The decrease in the prison population in Finland;
(g) The efforts made in educational programmes for the police and personnel dealing with asylum seekers;
(h) The legal measures taken to accommodate asylum seekers in places other than prison;
(i) The Finnish practice of making all statements of the accused available to the judge who, according to the law, must take into account only the statements made freely, as required by article 15 of the Convention.
3. Subjects of concern
54. The Committee is concerned about the following:
a) The lack of a definition of torture, as provided in article 1 of the Convention, in the penal legislation of the State party and the lack of a specific offence of torture punishable by appropriate penalties, as required by article 4, paragraph 2, of the Convention;
(b) The use of isolation in certain cases of pre-trial detention, initially authorized by a judge, but whose terms of implementation are decided upon administratively.
55. The Committee recommends that:
(a) Finland establish adequate penal provisions to make torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention a punishable offence in accordance with article 4, paragraph 2, of the Convention;
(b) The law governing isolation in pre-trial detention places be changed by establishing judicial supervision for the determination of the isolation, its duration and its maximum period;
(c) In order to reinforce the Conventions objectives to ensure the proper investigation of incidents which may amount to a breach of Article 16 of the Convention, the State party should declare illegal and prohibit organizations which promote and incite racial discrimination, as well as the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, as recommended to the State party by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in March 1999.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights