FINLAND: Total objector Visa Savolainen starts 173 days home detention


Finnish total objector Visa Savolainen began a sentence of 173 days "home detention" on Tuesday 27th October. Visa, a 21-years old political and social activist from Tampere, was sentenced on 28 August by Eastern Uusimaa district court (Itä-Uudenmaan käräjäoikeus) for "refusal of civilian service" (siviilipalveluksesta kieltäytyminen).

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Visa's refusal is a protest against international armament race and growing nationalism. He sees conscription as an outdated and discriminating institution, which he doesn't want to support. Visa says, "Conscription creates institutionalised violence, but it has also a central role in maintaining and reproducing bipolar gender system. Control created by conscription system impinges only on males and reiterates an image of two naturally opposite sexes, whose functions in society are automatically different."

House arrest has been possible for total objectors in Finland since November 2011. The prisoner must wear an electronic ankle bracelet and is allowed to work or study and spend some free time outside home during the sentence, but otherwise must stay at home. Since 2011, every year about 40-50 young Finnish men are sentenced to home detention or prison because they refuse to be conscripted. The number has been growing lately. Although more and more young men are exempted from concription because the army doesn't need them any more, the Finnish state still punishes those who refuse.

Repeatedly, and most recently in 2013, the United Nation's Human Rights Committee has criticised Finland's substitute to military service, which is twice the basic lenght length of military service, and therefore punitive. In its concluding observations of July 2013 the committee urged Finland to extend the privileges granted to Jehovah's Witnesses to other conscientious objectors. So far Finnish government has done nothing to solve these problems.


War Resisters' International calls for Visa Savolainen's sentence to be quashed, and the detention of all conscientious objectors to cease.

Please use our template email to send a letter of protest to the Finnish authorities.

Please also send a copy of the protest email to your local Finnish embassy - a list can be found here.

Andrew Dey