Information board for refugees arriving from Ukraine at the West Harbor in Helsinki on May 24th, 2022. LEHTIKUVA

International news

Amnesty International's yearly report on the state of human rights around the world reveals the double standards and inadequacy of the international system in combating human rights abuses in 2022. While Finland receives praise for reforms to sexual assault and abortion laws, there is still room for improvement regarding the right to protest. The Russian invasion of Ukraine had a massive impact on the realization of human rights in many ways, including war crimes committed by Russian forces, such as forced transfers and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, as well as exacerbating global energy and food crises.

The Finnish government considered several legislative proposals to prepare for state influence at the borders. Amnesty believes that these reforms did not adequately consider their impact on human rights, and the combined effects of these proposals could potentially restrict the right to seek asylum and violate the absolute ban on deportation. The changes to the Border Guard Act allowed for the closure of the eastern border to asylum seekers and the concentration of asylum applications to a specific crossing point. Following these reforms, the government began building a fence on the eastern border.

The right to protest was also threatened worldwide. In Finland, the police repeatedly dispersed protests held on the roads. The reason for the interruption was often traffic disruption, even though this alone is not a sufficient justification for interrupting peaceful protests.

In Finland, there have been reforms promoting human rights, such as changes to sexual assault legislation to be based on consent, easier access to abortion, and the possibility of legal gender confirmation through self-declaration starting in April 2023. However, Finland continues to violate the rights of the Sámi people as the reform of the Sámi Parliament Act failed in the final moments of the government's term.

The international system does not work if states turn a blind eye to violations. The Russian invasion of Ukraine highlighted the double standards of the international system and the inability to hold states accountable for human rights abuses. Although there is an abundance of evidence regarding Russia's long-standing crimes in Chechnya and Syria, it was only after the full-scale war that extensive economic sanctions were imposed against Russia, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched an investigation into war crimes. While the international community focused on Russia's actions, China avoided responsibility for its crimes against humanity committed against the Uighur and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. The UN Human Rights Council narrowly voted down a discussion on the UN High Commissioner's report, which described the systematic persecution of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Conflicts that have claimed thousands of civilian casualties...