By Eunike Mangampa / GICJ

On the 15th and 16th of May, the Committee on the Rights of the Child convened to review the combined fifth and sixth periodic reports under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Finland’s initial report on the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Pornography. This meeting was attended by the Finland delegation, notably comprising eight ministries, the permanent mission in Geneva, and the Government of the autonomous region of Åland.

As head of the delegation, Ms. Krista Oinonen, Director of the Unit for Human Rights Courts and Conventions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, began by highlighting Finland’s various achievements. Subsequently, discussions revolved around Finland’s new progressive national child strategy that is centred on children’s participation, reform provisions on sexual offences in the criminal code that strengthens sexual self-determination, capacity-building initiatives of public officials on the promotion of children’s rights and their continued efforts in ensuring equal access to learning for children from all backgrounds.

However, a common concern that the Committee has voiced pertained to the need for further consideration of minority groups in its policy implementation. The Committee expressed concerns on issues such as the limited inclusion of Romani, Sami and migrant children in equitable education initiatives, lacking accommodations for children with disabilities, and others. The Committee also addressed the discrepancy in standards and benefits for children in the Åland Islands and Finland.

Regarding the optional protocol, the Committee’s concerns were mainly about missing data points and a lack of progress reports on certain initiatives. Another primary concern of the Committee was that Finland’s amendment to its criminal code only regulates the trafficking of children. Unsatisfied with this incomprehensive definition, the Committee called for a distinction between child trafficking and the sale of children to comply with definitions set under international law.

Geneva International Centre for Justice commends Finland for its various reforms that have furthered children’s rights, especially regarding their right to safety and self-determination. However, we call for Finland to extend these rights to all members of its population, regardless of demographic, to fully embody the Convention.

Finland, Child rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 93rd session, Treaty bodies, Geneva International Centre for Justice

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