Finland has seen the number of human trafficking victims triple in the last three years according to a new report from the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (Greta).
In 2015 there were an estimated 52 victims of trafficking. That number jumped to 163 in 2018.
Greta reported that 572 victims — 53 of whom were children — received support from aid organizations from 2015-19. The majority of the victims were from Nigeria, Somalia, Thailand, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Yle News reports:
A press release on the report noted that “the most common purpose of trafficking in human beings in Finland is labour exploitation, followed by sexual exploitation, forced criminality and forced marriage.” Traffickers have forced victims to carry out crimes include prostitution, theft and street begging, according to the group.
The topic of human trafficking gained attention in Finland earlier this year after daily Helsingin Sanomat reported on the organised, wide-scale abuse of employees in some Nepalese restaurants.
Despite the notable increase in cases, the group said Finland has made some progress in preventing human trafficking, such as “developing the legislative framework for combating trafficking in human beings, conducting research, raising awareness and providing training to a range of professionals, including health-care staff and social workers.”
Greta commended Finland for establishing a human trafficking shelter for women and children, but noted that it needed many more safe houses and services to help male victims of trafficking. It also called on the government to protect migrant children who have gone missing from its care.
“Greta urges the Finnish authorities to ensure that unaccompanied and separated migrant children arriving in Finland benefit from effective care arrangements, including safe and appropriate accommodation,” the group said.
“The police should systematically carry out investigations into disappearances of migrant children and strengthen follow-up and alert systems on reports of missing children.”