Crime Victims – Finland

1. Before Reporting to the Police
2. Making a Police Statement
3. Legal Proceedings

1. Before Reporting to the Police

A. Consult a Counsel!

If a sex worker becomes a victim of violence or trafficking in women, the police will be interested in information she can give them as a victim or as a witness. For instance, she may be able to give them information about the persons who brought her into the country or to whom she has had to give part of her earnings. However, women who work as sex workers without the appropriate residence and work permits are committing an offence (for further information, see Sex Work and Prosecution).

Confidential advice is offered by advisory centres for migrant prostitutes. Advisory centres will not forward information regarding the woman, such as her name and address, to the police or immigration authorities. The advice is therefore always confidential.

B. Confidential Legal Advice

Advisory centres can arrange contacts with specialist lawyers. Generally, the woman herself must pay the lawyer.

C. Confidential Medical Examination

Advisory Centres also have addresses of doctors and/or clinics where the woman can go for a confidential medical examination, so that any injuries and traces of the crime may be documented. Once this is done, the evidence of the crime is recorded and the woman has time to think about whether or not she wishes to report the crime. If the woman has no travel insurance or is covered by social security because of her residence permit, advisory centres can arrange a medical examination free of charge.

D. Trafficking in Women

1. No Anti-Trafficking Legislation

Currently, Finnish criminal law does not define trafficking in women or in human beings as a criminal offence. Consequently, trafficked women can neither obtain a special status in alien law nor special rights to support services, as is common in other countries.
However, trafficked women will frequently be victims of other crimes which are covered by the Finnish penal code, such as deprivation of personal liberty, kidnapping, use of threats, coercion, bodily injury or rape.

2. Legal Changes with Regard to Trafficking

Finland has ratified the UN-Protocol Against Trafficking in Persons, and therefore will have to amend its legislation and introduce the crime of trafficking in persons soon. Preparations for the anti-trafficking bill are to start in the autumn of 2002.

2. Making a Police Statement

The woman may make a statement to the police, if she becomes a crime victim – for instance against persons who have brought her into the country or to whom she has had to give part of her earnings.
Please note:
A woman who works without the appropriate residence and work permits commits a crime, and it is not possible to get a work permit to work as a prostitute. For the rights of women accused of a crime or of an offence, see Prosecution.

A. Right to Remain Silent

No Right to Remain Silent
A victim is obliged to appear when summoned and to answer truthfully all the questions put to her. She may not be interrogated for more than 6 hours at a time, and there must be a break of at least 12 hours between the interrogations. She may remain silent about anything which incriminates her or a member of her family.

B. Female Officer

The woman may ask to be questioned by a female officer.

C. Translator

She is entitled to the services of a translator in her own language. Should she feel unable to trust the translator, she should tell the police. However, she is not legally entitled to another translator.

D. Lawyer

She may demand the presence of a counsel at the questioning, either her lawyer or another trusted person.
Hint: Memorise a lawyer’s telephone number!

E. No Custody

As a victim or witness, the woman may not be held in police custody. However, she may be detained if she is also accused of a crime. (See Prosecution).

3. Legal Proceedings

A. Stages of the Legal Proceedings

During preliminary proceedings, police and public prosecution gather evidence against the perpetrator. A woman who is the victim of a crime may be questioned again as a victim or witness. At the end of legal proceedings the public prosecutor decides whether to try the perpetrator before a criminal court.
In court, the case is considered afresh, that is, independently of the previous enquiries by the police and the public prosecution. When criminal proceedings are opened, the crime victim will be invited to give her evidence as a victim or as a witness. At the end of the proceedings the court issues a verdict as to whether the perpetrator(s) is/are guilty or not.

B. Trafficked Women

As there is no anti-trafficking legislation in Finland so far, and the first case of trafficking is currently being processed by the judicial system, it is unclear how trafficking cases will be dealt with and whether victims of trafficking will be treated as offenders themselves.
Therefore, migrant sex workers who have become victims of trafficking or other crimes – e.g. deprivation of personal liberty, kidnapping, use of threats, coercion, bodily injury or rape – should always consult an advisory centre for confidential information about her rights and duties before reporting the crime.

C.The Victim’s Rights

The victim of a crime is a party of the trial against the perpetrator and is called the complainant (asianomistaja). The complainant possesses the following rights:
1. Right to View Documentation

The lawyer of a joint plaintiff is entitled to view documentation during the initial enquiry and during the main proceedings. Thus, the woman will discover the characteristics of the court proceedings at an early stage, for example, how many accused parties there are, whether witnesses are to give evidence, what evidence the public prosecution has gathered etc.

2. Participation in All Appointments

The lawyer and – if she wishes it – the woman herself may participate in all court appointments.

3. Lawyer’s Rights of Procedure

The woman’s lawyer files her own petitions during proceedings, is entitled to sum up the case before the court and can lodge appeals. In this way she ensures that the court and public prosecution take into consideration the woman’s interests and rights, for instance by insisting that damages and compensation payments be met.

4. Lawyer’s Fees

As a party of the trial, the complainant is entitled to legal aid if she has no means. Her lawyer’s fees are paid completely by the state if her monthly income is less than 656 Euros. If she earns more, she can still be partly exempted from the costs.

D. Protection of the Victim

In court, the victim’s lawyer insists on the victim’s rights to protection. For this reason, the victim and her lawyer should discuss beforehand what the individual possibilities for protection are, and which the victim desires.
1. Police Protection

The woman may be accompanied and protected by the police during the entire proceedings, and particularly during her statement. There is no legal entitlement to this protection. The police decide to what degree they consider the woman endangered. In order to obtain the best possible protection, the woman should inform her lawyer and the police of threats made against her by the perpetrators and by others.

2. Evidence in a Non-Public Hearing

The public can be excluded from proceedings if personal or intimate questions are to be put to the witness. In practice, this is always the case with sexual crimes.

3. Evidence Without the Presence of the Accused

In certain rare cases the accused party is excluded during the victim’s statement.

E. Compensation for the Victim

1. From The Perpetrator
a) During Criminal Proceedings

During criminal proceedings, the woman in question may make claims for damages and compensation through her lawyer.

b) During Civil Proceedings

The woman may also make claims for damages or compensation before a civil court, parallel to the criminal proceedings or afterwards.

2. From the State

If compensation from the convicted person is not forthcoming, the victim is entitled to State compensation for the losses she has suffered through criminal acts. The victim can claim State compensation at the State Treasury.

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