Country report and updates: Finland

Last revision: 15 Oct 2021
15 Oct 2021

Issues

  • Finland maintains conscription.
  • The length of the alternative non-military (civilian) service is punitive.
  • Those refusing the military and the (punitive) alternative service, including total objectors, are punished with prison sentences usually transformed to home detention under monitoring.
  • The right to conscientious objection is not recognised for professional soldiers.
  • There is lack of information about the non-military (civilian) service in the call-ups.
  • Serving conscripts who wish to change to non-military service often face denial or procrastination by the military officers.
  • Military has influence in the working groups and committees considering non-military service
  • In times of crisis or war, the application will be dealt with by a specially constituted board, which includes one member from the military.

Military recruitment

Conscription

Conscription is enshrined in Article 127 of the 1999 Constitution, which states that "[e]very Finnish citizen is obligated to participate or assist in national defence, as provided by an Act".[1]
The Finnish legislation concerning conscription has been completely overhauled in 2007. The new legislation came into force on 1 January 2008.

Conscription is mainly legislated by the 2007 Military Service Law (Asevelvollisuuslaki 28.12.2007/1438[2]) as amended by various subsequent laws.

Conscription lasts 165, 255, 347 days.[3] Conscripts trained for rank-and-file duties serve for 165 days, those trained for rank-and-file duties requiring special skills and those completing unarmed service serve for 255 days. Conscripts trained to be officers, non-commissioned officers or for the most demanding special duties in the rank-and-file serve for 347 days.[4] Approximately 43% of conscripts serve for 347 days, some 14% for 255 days, and 43% for 165 days.[5]

All male Finnish citizens have to fulfil their military service (or non-military service, or get exempted because of health or foreign citizenship issues) before the end of the year they turn 30. After that they are still liable for military service until 60 years of age, meaning that in the case of war they may be called up to military.[6]

However, according to the legislation, persons with a right of domicile on the demilitarised Åland Islands and persons who have moved to Åland under the age of 12 can fulfil their liability for military service in maritime pilot station service or lighthouse service of the Finnish Maritime Administration, or within some other civilian administration. Until such service is provided, they are exempt from military service. [7] In practice, Åland Islands inhabitants are not called up to this service, even if the legislation gives this possibility to the authorities. They can still go to the military in continental Finland as volunteers.[8]

Exemptions may be granted due to lack of fitness for military service according to Section 10 of the Conscription Act (Military Service Law). The percentage of those who get exempted because of health issues has significantly risen after the millennium. By the end of 2020 about 1/4 of the young men get exemption. Some of them consider themselves as conscientious objectors, and they try intentionally to get exemption to avoid the punitive non-military service or custodial sentence.[9]

All those eligible for military service receive a draft notice “during the first half of the year”, even if residing abroad, assuming their address is known. Annual conscription takes place from August to December. Male citizens who have turned or will turn 18 during the year are obliged to present themselves at call-up to establish whether they are fit for service. The general induction times for entry into military service take place twice a year in January and July. It is possible to change the date for entry into service by an application.[10]

Finnish citizens residing abroad may register by filling a "Questionnaire about the service and your health" and sending it to their Provincial Headquarters ("aluetoimisto"). If they don't know which one is their Headquarters, they can ask any of them where to be in contact.[11] If no notice has been received, the Provincial Headquarters in question, or when abroad, the nearest Embassy of Finland has to be contacted in August at the latest. Despite not having received the notice, the conscripts must take care of their recruitment duty. Otherwise they may be accused of refusing the military service if visiting Finland until the end of the year they turn 30. The limitation period for refusing the military service is 2 years, so they might be accused until the end of the year they turn 32.[12]

Citizens with more than one nationality

Foreign citizens who have gained Finnish citizenship and who have carried out the compulsory peacetime military service of his/her former home country, or a portion of it (at least four (4) months) can upon application be exempted from military service in peacetime. Decisions regarding exemption are made by the Provincial Headquarters.

In peacetime, upon application for special reasons, the Provincial Headquarters can exempt from peacetime military service a Finnish citizen who is also the citizen of another country, if this person's domicile proper is not in Finland and he does not have any real ties to Finland.[13]

According to information from AKL, sometimes the Provincial Headquarters are rejecting the dual-citizens’ exemptions in a questionable manner.

Regarding the conscription of a Finnish citizen who also holds Norwegian, Swedish or Danish citizenship, what is ordered in previously made agreements (Agreement 44/68) between the contracting countries in question is also in force. In addition, a corresponding agreement was made between the United States of America and Finland (Agreement 25/39) concerning conscription. A Finnish citizen, in relation to whom the aforementioned agreements apply, is not liable for military service, nor does he need to carry out service in relation to his liability for military service in Finland during a time when he is considered to be a citizen of a contracting country other than Finland.

Persons with multiple nationality living in contracting countries do not need to apply separately for exemption as the aforementioned agreements apply to them. Persons with multiple nationalities living in the aforementioned contracting countries are encouraged to clarify their own position at the Finnish Embassy, consulate or their own supervisory Provincial Headquarters in Finland.

A person liable for military service is not obligated to report for the call-up or military service if he is also a citizen of another country and his place of domicile has been elsewhere than in Finland for the last seven years. Such persons do not need to apply separately for exemption. An exempted multinational conscript can be ordered into service if he moves to Finland before the end of the year in which he turns 30.[14]

Abolition of exemption for Jehovah’s Witnesses

From 1985 until 2019, Jehovah's Witnesses were legally exempt from service in peacetime, on providing prove of membership and participation in their activities.[15] In its Concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Finland (CCPR/C/FIN/CO/6, 22 August 2013), the United Nations´ Human Rights Committee reiterated its concerns “that the preferential treatment accorded to Jehovah’s Witnesses has not been extended to other groups of conscientious objectors”. The Committee concluded: “The State party should also extend the preferential treatment accorded to Jehovah’s Witnesses to other groups of conscientious objectors.”

In February 2018, the Helsinki Court of Appeals ruled that legislation exempting Jehovah’s witnesses but no other conscientious objectors from military and civilian service is contrary to the prohibition of discrimination guaranteed by the Finnish Constitution.[16] Contrary to recommendation by this Committee, the government did not extend the preferential treatment accorded to Jehovah’s Witnesses to other groups of conscientious objectors. Instead, a law removing the exemption for Jehovah’s witnesses entered into force in April 2019.[17]

In its Concluding Observations of 2021, the Human Rights Committee appeared “concerned that the Act Repealing the Act on the Exemption of Jehovah’s Witnesses from Military Service in Certain Cases (330/2019) has removed the exemption from military and civilian service accorded to Jehovah’s Witnesses, in contrast to the Committee’s previous recommendations to extend such exemption to other groups of conscientious objectors (CCPR/C/FIN/CO/6, para. 14).”[18]

Voluntary military service for women

Since 1995, women can perform a voluntary military service (not to be confused with a military career) in the Finnish Armed Forces. The requirements for being accepted to carry out women’s voluntary military service are: Finnish citizenship, 18-29 years of age as well as a good state of health and suitability of other personal qualities for military training.

A woman who has applied and received call-up papers can, before her service is due to begin, give notice in writing that she will not enter into service. Correspondingly, a woman who has begun her military service may give notice within 45 days of the date of entry into service, that she will not continue her service. A woman who has been ordered into service is subject to regulations concerning all conscripts.[19]

Over the past years, the number of women applying for the voluntary military service has been on the increase with more than 1,500 applicants in 2018[20] and 1,675 for the period ended in March 2021.[21]

Reservists

After completing military service, conscripts pass to the reserve. The Conscription Act allows for selective activation of reservists even in situations which do not require even partial mobilisation (articles 78–89).[22]
Reservist obligations apply up to the age of 50, and up to the age of 60 for officers.[23]

Reservists may be ordered to attend training exercise while being part of the reserve:

  • Reserve officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers for 200 days
  • Those trained for demanding rank and file tasks for 150 days
  • Other rank and file for 80 days[24]

Professional soldiers

     Soldiers serve essentially under the same general contract as other persons employed by the state, which can be in form of a permanent post or a fixed-term contract. However, in addition there are regulations on military discipline and on personnel in crisis management operations.

Statistics

According to the official website of the Finnish Defence Forces: “During peacetime, the Finnish Defence Forces employs approximately 12,000 persons in domestic duties. Approximately 4,000 of those are civilians or have received a civilian tertiary education. The Finnish Defence Forces train approximately 22,000 conscripts annually.”[25]

However, according to the statistics provided at the official websites of each branch of the armed forces, the number of conscripts appears to be higher:

Army[26]

Salaried personnel

4 190

Soldiers
Civilians

3 550
640

Conscripts

19 800

Of which voluntary women

450

Reservists (2017)

18 900

Taking part in refresher training
Taking part in voluntary exercises
Taking part in exercises arranged by
the National Defence Training Association

10 300
2 700
5 900
 

Crisis Management Operations

500

Of which reservists

350

Navy

Every year the Finnish Navy turns approximately 3,400 conscripts into reservists.[27]

Air Force

The Air Force has approximately 2,000 uniformed and non-uniformed service members. The service trains around 1,300 conscripts each year.[28]

Conscientious objection

Conscientious objection for conscripts

With the overhaul of legislation on conscription, also the legislation on conscientious objection has been overhauled. Conscientious objection is now regulated by the civilian service act 2007 (Siviilipalveluslaki 28. December 2007/1446)[29] as amended.
As the conscription act also applies to women who wish to perform a voluntary military service, the civilian service act also applies to those women (article 1). An application for conscientious objection is possible before, during and after military service (article 12). A person can apply for non-military service at or after call-up (but not before the call-up[30]) or after having already volunteered for military service. The military service already carried out will be considered when the remaining period of non-military service is calculated. The application is submitted to the call-up board, the commander of the relevant unit or the Provincial Headquarters of the Finnish Defence Forces.[31] Applications can be made with a standard application form that is available from the Ministry. Since 1987, there is no personal interview during the application procedure. Consequently, applications are automatically granted by the law.

However, problems have been reported when applying for non-military (civilian) service.[32] There is not any information about non-military service in the call-up notice. In the questionnaire there are questions what kind of wishes the draftee has for army service. There is no possibility to announce about the wish to serve in the non-military service.[33]  Those eligible for military service receive also a guide book for military service that cites shortly that it is possible to apply for non-military service but not the information about how to actually do it.[34] Furthermore, in the call-ups organised by the Finnish Defence Forces and the municipalities, the non-military service sometimes is not mentioned at all, and if it is mentioned, it is in a quick and sometimes in a negative way. Moreover, serving conscripts who wish to change to non-military service often face denial or procrastination by the military officers.

In its Concluding Observations of 2021, the Human Rights Committee appeared “concerned about the insufficient dissemination of information about the right to conscientious objection and alternatives to military service” and requested Finland to “intensify its efforts to raise awareness among the public about the right to conscientious objection and the availability of alternatives to military service”.[35]

Unlike before, an application is now also possible in times of crisis or war. However, under those circumstances the application will be dealt with by a specially constituted board, which includes one member from the military. It is possible to appeal against the decision of the board (articles 18-22).

Unarmed service

Unarmed service in the armed forces is available for persons with religious or ethical convictions preventing them from performing armed military service, upon application. The service time for unarmed service is at least 255 days, or 347 days, if required by the task trained for.[36]

Non-military (civilian) service

According to an amendment to section 4 of the Act on Non-Military Service (717/2012), the period prescribed for non-military service was reduced from 362 to       347 days - equal to the longest possible service time for conscripts, and more than twice as long as the shortest military service time of 165 days, which concerns about 43% of conscripts.

In its Concluding Observations of 2021, the Human Rights Committee “notes with concern that the regular duration of alternative non-military service amounts to the longest period of military service” and requests Finland to “ensure that alternatives to military service are not punitive or discriminatory in terms of their nature or duration and remain of a civilian nature, outside military command”.[37]

The period of Non-Military Service consists of a basic training period of 28 days and about 10.5 months of labour service.[38] The basic training period contains training common to all participants and special training in five different areas of specialisation. The areas of specialisation are as follows: 1) fire and rescue services and civil protection, 2) protection of environment and cultural values, 3) civic skills, 4) prevention of violence, and 5) everyday security.[39]

The labour service is to be performed at non-military service locations approved by the Civilian Service Centre; there are about 2,000 of these around Finland.

In 2019 there were 2,383 applications for the non-military (civilian) service, compared to 1,815 the previous year. This rise is considered to be mainly because of Jehovah’s Witnesses now being liable for performing the non-military (civilian) service.[40]

There were 2,400 applications to perform non-military service in 2020.[41]

Concerns about new parliamentary committee and not entirely civilian control

In March 2020 Finland launched a parliamentary committee “to look into ways to develop general conscription and to meet national defence obligations.” The committee’s aim is “to maintain a high level of defence will and to strengthen social equity among citizens”. General conscription is maintained in the committee’s appointment decision. The term of the committee continues until October 31 of 2021. There is also a civil servant membered section in the committee to examine non-military service development for the needs of comprehensive security and to examine the possibility for implementing universal national service. This section is appointed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.[42]

The Union of Conscientious Objectors (AKL) has pointed out that the committee’s task description is missing the human rights violations towards conscientious objectors. It has criticized development ideas to convert non-military service into more of a comprehensive security service and pointed out that by doing so it might endanger the conviction of the non-military servicemen. It is already possible for Finnish non-military servicemen to serve in the comprehensive security sectors.[43]

Non-military service is not fully under civilian control. Military has influence in the working groups and committees considering non-military service. In the Working Group to Examine the Needs of Changes to Non-Military Service Act, which was active in 2017-18, there were members from The Ministry of Defence, military headquarters and The Union of Conscripts. The situation is the same in the Advisory Committee on Non-Military Service Affairs. The human rights expertise and interests of non-military servicemen is left mostly on the shoulders of the member from The Union of Conscientious Objectors in both of the aforementioned groups.[44]

In its Concluding Observations of 2021, the Human Rights Committee “notes with concern […] that, while such alternative service is under the direction of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, military personnel still take part in relevant working groups and committees determining the nature and duration of alternative service”. This is one of the reasons the Committee has requested Finland to “ensure that alternatives to military service are not punitive or discriminatory in terms of their nature or duration and remain of a civilian nature, outside military command”.[45]

Punishment for conscientious objectors refusing to perform military and civilian service

Conscientious objectors who refuse to perform both military service and non-military (civilian) service are called “total objectors”. They are sentenced to imprisonment for a period corresponding to half of their remaining non-military service time. Maximum imprisonment period is 173 days. Since 2013, total objectors have had the chance to apply to perform monitoring sentences.

The Act on the Monitoring Sentence (330/2011) came into effect on 1st November 2011. According to it a person can be sentenced to monitoring sentence instead of prison. The act allows monitoring sentences also for conscientious objectors. After the duration of civilian service was shortened on 1st of February 2013, the monitoring sentence became possible for all who have refused to do military and alternative service.

Total objectors sentenced for refusal to perform non-military service or refusing military service, can normally change the imprisonment to the monitoring sentence. They need to “apply” for it. Technically, the Criminal Sanctions Agency performs suitability clearance for them.[46] According to the agency's website: “The monitoring sentence requires that the dwelling place of the sentenced offender is suitable for the enforcement of the sentence and that the people living in the same place give their consent [to] it.”[47]

In practice the monitoring sentence means home detention. Sentenced person is controlled by technical devices and by other means and is allowed to go outside his dwelling only according to schedule set in advance and only for purposes strictly regulated in law (to take part in monitoring meetings, and to engage in work, training, action programmes or similar activities maintaining or promoting his or her functioning capacity and social skills).

The legislation leaves the decision to give a monitoring sentence instead of a prison sentence to the sentencing court. Although the majority of conscientious objectors have been sentenced to monitoring sentence since its introduction, prison sentences are still possible. If the perpetrator breaks the conditions of monitoring sentence, its execution can be interrupted and the person in question sentenced to prison. The Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors in February 2017 stated that they were aware of a case, when conscientious objector´s monitoring sentence was interrupted because he missed the curfew set to him three times.

Averagely there have been annually about 40 total objector cases in the years 2010-2019.[48] They are charged either on “refusal to perform non-military service” (Non-Military Service act, section 74) [if they had applied for the non-military service but they didn’t go] or “refusing military service” (Conscription act, section 118). In both cases the convict is always sentenced to unconditional prison or monitoring sentence. The duration of the sentence is always half of his remaining service time. The amount of service time remaining for the person who is charged on “refusing military service”, is considered to be that which would have been assigned to him in non-military service if he had applied for and been accepted for non-military service on the day of his mustering out.[49]

The usual sentence is 173 days in prison (or under monitored home detention).

According to media reports:

  • in 2017, a total of 33 conscripts refused both military and civilian service. Among them, three chose prison and the remaining 30 chose monitoring.[50]
  • in 2018 there were 47 criminal cases of total objectors reported.[51]
  • in 2019 there were 88 reported cases of objectors who refused both the military and the civilian service.[52]

Such numbers are similar, albeit not identical, to the numbers of total objectors submitted by AKL to the Human Rights Committee, citing Statistics Finland and Non-Military Service Centre as sources. According to AKL’s submission, in 2020, the Centre for Non-Military Service reported 46 refusals to perform non-military service.[53]

Since February 2018 there have been acquittals of total objectors, however, after the abolition of the exemption for Jehovah’s Witnesses in April 2019, they have been called-up again, and punished.

This is due to the Non-Military Service Act’s section 79, according to which once acquitted conscientious objectors refusing to perform both military service and non-military service  are ordered again to start the non-military service: “If a person liable for non-military service against whom a report on an offence has been entered for refusal to perform non-military service or a non-military service offence is not charged with the offences in question or given a prison sentence, the Centre for Non-Military Service must order the person back into service”.

According to Amnesty International[54]: “Between February 2018 and April 2019, approximately 90[55] conscientious objectors were acquitted by courts after having been prosecuted for refusal to perform non-military service.[56] They have since been served with a new service order under the Non-Military Service Act.[57] By the end of April 2020, 31 of them had refused the non-military service for the second time[58] and, contrary to the ne bis in idem principle, nine of them were convicted to custodial sentences[59] which, as a general rule, means electronic monitoring in practice.”

According to more recent information from AKL: “At least 19 total objectors who were given acquittal sentences before have received convicting sentences from their second refusals to perform non-military service. Their second refusals have happened after Finland repealed the preferential treatment accorded to Jehovah’s Witnesses on 1 April 2019. At least 16 of second-time total objectors have applied for the Appeal Court. In January 2021 three of them were freed from charge in the Court of Appeal, due to the ne bis in idem principle. Dozens of objectors in the same situation are still subpoenaed or will be subpoenaed this year [i.e. 2021].”[60]

After the decision of the Appeal Court in January 2021, the attorney applied to the Supreme Court of Finland to abolish the decision. In June 2021 the Supreme Court decided to not consider the issue. Therefore the Appeal Court's decision is the final one, and all second-time total objectors who have appealed about their previous judgements will get freed from charges.

Currently, it is not clear, whether the Centre for Non-Military Service will order those freed total objectors back into service for a third time, due to the Non-Military Service Act's section 79. In any case, AKL takes for granted that even if the objectors would need to refuse for the third time and that would cause them new charges, they would get freed from the charges in court

Always according to AKL’s submission, unlike Finland’s claims on its submission to the Human Rights Committee, not all Jehovah's Witnesses are glad to serve in the non-military service. Some Jehovah’s Witnesses in the conscription age have already been sentenced because of their total objection to any military or non-military conscription service, even if some of them do perform the non-military service now. The case of a total objector and Jehovah’s Witness Matias Selin is an example. Due to his conviction, Selin refused to perform the non-military service in autumn 2019.[61] A district court sentenced Selin to the monitoring sentence from 7th September 2020 to 26th February 2021.

Right for conscientious objection for the reservists

The persons who have completed military service and belong to military reserve, have a right to resign from the military reserve by applying to non-military service. After the application has been accepted, the person in question is liable to participate in “supplementary service”. The supplementary service time cannot exceed 40 days (Non-Military Service act, section 58). In practice, people who have applied to non-military service after completing the military service, have been called to perform one five days long supplementary service period.

Since 2008, Finland has recognised the right for conscientious objection also during war. Since the amendment of the legislation in 2019, all those persons who have completed the military service and applied for non-military service and whose application is granted are exempted from military service also during war.

According to Non-Military Service act (section 59), “an order to perform supplementary service must be delivered to a person liable for non-military service within 12 months of the approval of the application for non-military service.” In practice, this period of time is in many cases longer than 12 months.

Conscientious objection for professional soldiers

The act on civilian service does not include the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.

Draft evasion and desertion

Penalties

Evasion of the draft event is punished with a fine and a new call-up, which, at least in previous years, has led some into a repeating circle of fines and call-ups, if they refuse to comply.[62] The police can detain those who haven't gone to the draft event and bring them to the place of service.

If someone has been in the draft event but doesn't go to the military service, he is first accused of the unauthorized absence, and may be imposed a 6 months prison sentence in maximum (Criminal Code of Finland[63], 45th chapter 9 §). If he continues avoiding the service, the next step is desertion (10 §), the penalty is one year of imprisonment in maximum. Those convicted for unauthorised absence and desertion usually are not imprisoned but remain on probation. If for some reason they have been sentenced to unconditional imprisonment it depends on the case if it is possible or not to change to the monitoring sentence.[64]

 

[1] See English translation The Constitution of Finland 11 June 1999 (731/1999, amendments up to 817/2018 included) https://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/1999/en19990731.pdf

[2] Asevelvollisuuslaki 28.12.2007/1438, http://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/2007/20071438, In English https://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/2007/en20071438.pdf Accessed 1st March 2021.

[3] Human Rights Committee, Seventh periodic report submitted by Finland under article 40 of the Covenant pursuant to the optional reporting procedure, due in 2020, CCPR/C/FIN/7, 23 April 2020, para. 251. Available at: http://undocs.org/CCPR/C/FIN/7

[6] Information from Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors (AKL).

[8] Information from Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors (AKL).

[9] Information from Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors (AKL).

[11] Information from Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors (AKL).

[12] Information from Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors (AKL).

[14] The Finnish Defence Forces, Conscript 2020, A guide to carry out your military service, p.17. Available at: https://intti.fi/documents/1948673/2258487/Conscript+Guide+2018/08f3c6e6-6fae-4305-b765-53d4847a7893/Conscript+Guide+2018.pdf 

[15] Act on the Release of Jehovah's Witnesses from Military Obligations in Certain Cases (645/1985)

[17] 330/2019 available in Finnish at https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2019/20190330  

[18] Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Finland, (CCPR/C/FIN/CO/7), 1 April 2021, para. 36. Available at: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/FIN/CCPR_C_FIN_CO_7_44648_E.pdf

[23] https://intti.fi/en/in-the-reserve Accessed 1 March 2021.

[29] Siviilipalveluslaki 28.12.2007/1446, http://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/2007/20071446, Accessed 1 March 2021

[30] The Finnish Defence Forces, Conscript 2020, A guide to carry out your military service, p.17. Available at: https://intti.fi/documents/1948673/2258487/Conscript+Guide+2018/08f3c6e6-6fae-4305-b765-53d4847a7893/Conscript+Guide+2018.pdf

[32] AKL, Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, 131st Session, 1 to 26 March 2021, 28 January 2021, [submission date at UN website: 22 February 2021]. Available at: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=INT%2fCCPR%2fCSS%2fFIN%2f44417&Lang=en

[35] Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Finland, (CCPR/C/FIN/CO/7), 1 April 2021, paras. 36-37. Available at: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/FIN/CCPR_C_FIN_CO_7_44648_E.pdf

[36] The Finnish Defence Forces, Conscript 2020, A guide to carry out your military service, p.17. Available at: https://intti.fi/documents/1948673/2258487/Conscript+Guide+2018/08f3c6e6-6fae-4305-b765-53d4847a7893/Conscript+Guide+2018.pdf

[37] Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Finland, (CCPR/C/FIN/CO/7), 1 April 2021, paras. 36-37. Available at: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/FIN/CCPR_C_FIN_CO_7_44648_E.pdf

[38] Human Rights Committee, Seventh periodic report submitted by Finland under article 40 of the Covenant pursuant to the optional reporting procedure, due in 2020, CCPR/C/FIN/7, 23 April 2020, para. 251. Available at: http://undocs.org/CCPR/C/FIN/7

[39] Information from Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors (AKL).

[40] Samu Karvala, “Siviilipalveluksen suosio on huippulukemissa – ennätysmäärä nuorukaisia kieltäytyi siitäkin” mantsalanuutiset.fi, 13 January 2020. Available in Finnish at: https://www.mantsalanuutiset.fi/paikalliset/1211887

[41] EBCO annual report, “Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Europe 2020, p. 25.

[44] Information from Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors (AKL).

[45] Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Finland, (CCPR/C/FIN/CO/7), 1 April 2021, paras. 36-37. Available at: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/FIN/CCPR_C_FIN_CO_7_44648_E.pdf

[46] Information from Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors (AKL).

[48] Report of the Union of Conscientious Objectors (Aseistakieltäytyjäliitto, AKL) regarding Finland’s seventh periodic report on International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Appendix 1. Available at: http://akl-web.fi/fi/posts/akln-raportti-ykn-ihmisoikeuskomitealle

[49] Contribution by the Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 13 February 2017. Available at: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/RuleOfLaw/ConscientiousObjection/FUCO.pdf

[50] Pauliina Karjalainen, “Suomessa mielipidevanki suorittaa tuomionsa jalkapannassa – Totaalikieltäytyjä Janne: “Onko tarkoitus, että luovun mielipiteistäni?””, Seura, 11 March 2018. Available in Finnish at: https://seura.fi/asiat/ajankohtaista/suomi-mielipidevanki-totaalikieltaytyja-janne-jalkapannassa/

[51] “Uutissuomalainen: Totaalikieltäytyjien määrä kasvanut voimakkaasti – syynä välitila lainsäädännössä” Is.fi., 15 March 2019. Available in Finnish at: https://www.is.fi/kotimaa/art-2000006035828.html

[52] Samu Karvala, “Siviilipalveluksen suosio on huippulukemissa – ennätysmäärä nuorukaisia kieltäytyi siitäkin” mantsalanuutiset.fi, 13 January 2020. Available in Finnish at: https://www.mantsalanuutiset.fi/paikalliset/1211887

[53] Report of the Union of Conscientious Objectors (Aseistakieltäytyjäliitto, AKL) regarding Finland’s seventh periodic report on International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Appendix 1. Available at: http://akl-web.fi/fi/posts/akln-raportti-ykn-ihmisoikeuskomitealle

[54] Amnesty International, “Finland: Submission to the United Nations Human Rights 130th Session, 12 October – 6 November 2020”, 23 September 2020, Index number: EUR 20/2940/2020, p. 19. Available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur20/2940/2020/en/

[55] At least 92 according to: AKL, Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, 131st Session, 1 to 26 March 2021, 28 January 2021, [submission date at UN website: 22 February 2021]. Available at: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=INT%2fCCPR%2fCSS%2fFIN%2f44417&Lang=en

[56] Information received from the Civilian Service Centre on 17 June 2020.

[57] Section 79 of the Non-Military Service Act (1446/2007) reads: “New service order: If a person liable for non-military service against whom a report on an offence has been entered for refusal to perform non-military service or a non-military service offence is not charged with the offences in question or given a prison sentence, the Centre for Non-Military Service must order the person back into service. The time during which he has been detained due to the investigation of the case is then counted as service time in such a way that one day of detention is equivalent to two days of non-military service.” Unofficial translation, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, July 2015, https://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/2007/en20071446_20130940.pdf  

[58] Figure received from the Civilian Service Centre on 17 June 2020.

[59] Figure received from the Union of Conscientious Objectors on 16 June 2020.

[60] AKL, Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, 131st Session, 1 to 26 March 2021, 28 January 2021, [submission date at UN website: 22 February 2021]. Available at: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=INT%2fCCPR%2fCSS%2fFIN%2f44417&Lang=en

[61] Interview of a conscientious objector Matias Selin: https://www.iltalehti.fi/kotimaa/a/f9e95e25-f041-4ba4-a678-5f9f2a6e75a5

[62] Email from Kaj Raninen (2003), Re: WRI draft section on Finland for OSCE report, 7 July 2003.

[64] Information from the Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors (AKL).

Recent stories on conscientious objection: Finland

18 Mar 2021

The webinar series Campaigning for Conscientious Objection to Military Service continue with a new event on 30th March (4pm BST, 5pm CEST, 6pm Cyprus and Israel). On this webinar, we will be focusing on public awareness with activists from Cyprus, Israel and Finland presenting their campaigns on conscientious objection.

08 Jun 2020

A network of antimilitarist activists from East and North Europe has launched an online event called Antimilimarathon. For 42 consecutive days, starting on 1st June, they will share and post in social media a variety of events, workshops, discussions and webinars, promoting antimilitarist art and culture. If you want to participate in this marathon use the hashtag #Antimilimarathon.

22 Mar 2018

Each month, we will feature a different WRI affiliate. This month it's Aseistakieltäytyjäliitto, an affiliate in Finland.

26 Feb 2018

On 23 February the Helsinki appeal court decided to repeal a sentence given to a total objector by a district court. The objector said that his pacifist convictions were a reason for his conscientious objection. He had been sentenced for "refusal from civilian service". The appeal court decided that sentencing him would be discriminatory compared to Jehovah's Witnesses preferential treatment. Jehovah's Witnesses are exempt from military and civilian service in peace time.

01 Nov 2016

19 years old high school student Risto Miinalainen started to serve his 173 days prison sentence today 4 Oct. A group of 20 people, composed of his friends and activists of Finnish Union of Conscientious Objetors, walked with him from his school to the gates of Helsinki prison through the centre of the city today.

Risto was charged on "refusal from civilian service" (siviilipalveluksesta kieltäytyminen). He was sentenced by Eastern Uusimaa district court (Itä-Uudenmaan käräjäoikeus) on 20 April 2016. Helsinki sppeal court (Helsingin hovioikeus) refused to give him a permission to appeal on 6 July. Majority of Finnish total objectors are sentenced to home detention instead of prison, but Risto chose the prison sentence after reading about the negative experiences of some total objectors who has been sentenced to home detention.
03 Dec 2015

Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Kaj Raninen has been involved in the antimilitarist movement since the beginning of the 1990s.  He is currently general secretary of the Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors.  Ruka Toivonen, meanwhile, is a Helsinki based transgender activist and student. They study queer theory, prison systems and social history, but value their experience in radical grassroots organising as their highest and most precious education.  They have been involved in the Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors for many years.  Here, they discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of conscientious objection campaigns that focus on total objection and alternative service. 
 
Finland still has comprehensive conscription for men.  Even though the number of people doing military service has declined and will most likely continue to do so, about two thirds of all men coming of age still go through military service (about 20,000 per year).  Women have had the option of volunteering for the army since 1994, and a few hundred enrol each year.  Approximately 7-8% of men choose an alternative, non-military service which is twice the length of the shortest period of military service (165 compared to 347 days) and the same length as the longest.

24 Jun 2015

In Finland, conscription is among the most glorified institutions of the state among the people. For most of last decade polls have shown about 70 % support for keeping conscription, and none of the major political parties want to abolish it. In the beginning of 2015 the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces made a decision to cut the reserve by about a third, to 230,000 people, opening for the first time the chance to look for alternatives to mandatory conscription. The state faces broad international criticism for not respecting the rights of conscientious objectors.

13 May 2015

An introduction to the Union of Conscientious Objectors in Finland, AKL. Download here.

 

 

 

 

29 Jul 2013

FINLAND CCPR/C/FIN/CO/6
14. While welcoming the legislative changes allowing for non-military services applications during mobilizations and serious disturbances and the fact that total objectors can be exempted from unconditional imprisonment, the Committee reiterates its concerns that the length of non-military service is almost twice the duration of the period of service for the rank and file and that the preferential treatment accorded to Jehovah’s Witnesses has not been extended to other groups of conscientious objectors (art. 18).