Comparative law and justice/Finland

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Mattyb2024 13:37, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Basic Information[edit]

Map of Finland.

Finland is a European Country located in northern Europe. The country is bordered by Sweden to the west, Russia to the East, and by the Baltic Sea to the south. Finland as a whole is 338,145 sq km, 34,330 sq km of which are bodies of water.[1] As of July 2009, there were approximately 5,250,275 people in inhabiting Finland. When compared to other known landmasses, Finland is slightly smaller then the size as Montana.[2] which is located in the United States. The Country has 1,250 miles of coastline and its national boundaries extend 12 nautical miles from the coast. [3]The sub-arctic country stays relatively cool, but does not drop as low as many of the surrounding countries. The Temperature in Finland stay more mild because because of the mass amounts of lakes scattered throughout the country, as well as the Baltic Sea, and the north Atlantic current. [4] The Approximate average temperature in the winter is around ten degrees Celsius.. [5] Currently, there are environmental problems with air pollution, acid rain, and water pollution from industrial wastes that are threatening the wildlife. [6]The national animal of Finland is the Brown bear, the national bird is the Whooper swan, and the national fish is the european perch.[7]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_animals

The Finnish National Flag.

Helsinki- Helsinki is the capital city of Finland and is located on the southern coast of Finland, just north of the Gulf of Finland. Helsinki is home to around 560,000 residents and is quickly gorwing. [8] Helsinki is also noted for being the most northern capital on the European continent.[9]

Age & Gender[edit]

Out of 5,250,275 inhabitants In Finland, the median age is about 42 years old. For males, the age is slightly younger then 42 years and for females, the age is slightly older. When broken into age brackets, a majority of the inhabitants, 66.8%, fall in to ages 15-64. The ratio of males to females is very close to equal until you get up into the older ages.[10]

  • 0-14 years: 16.4% (male 438,425/female 422,777)
  • 15-64 years: 66.8% (male 1,773,495/female 1,732,792)
  • 65 years and over: 16.8% (male 357,811/female 524,975)[11]

Religions, Ethnicities & Languages[edit]

Religions-In Finland as of 1923, the citizens have had a right to choose which ever religion they desired. There are two national churches of Finland. [12]The two most popular churches in Finland are actually the two national churches of the country, the Lutheran Church of Finland and the Orthodox Church of Finland. Other notable religions that are practiced in Finland are Catholicism, Judaism, Anglican, and Islam.[13]


  • Lutheran Church of Finland 82.5%
  • Orthodox Church 1.1%
  • Other Christian 1.1%
  • Other 0.1%
  • None 15.1% [14]

Ethnicities-The citizens of Finland are referred to as Finns, and they make up a large majority of the Country's population. [15]There is a relatively small percentage of the neighboring nation's peoples inhabiting the land. The Sweden boarders Finland in the north and is just across the Gulf of Bothnia. Russians share a boarder with Finland on the eastern portion of the country and they account for a relatively small portion of the population. Estonians are from the south of Finland, across the Gulf of Finland. The Romani people (gypsies) first came to Finland from Sweden. The Sami people are the native people of northern Europe. [16]Sami people are mostly located in Norway and Sweden, while a small portion are located in Finland and Russia. With in the last 15 years, the Sami people have taken big steps with the Finnish government to help establish certain rights, such as the right to develop and maintain their own language and culture.[17]

  • Finn 93.4%
  • Swede 5.6%
  • Russian 0.5%
  • Estonian 0.3%
  • Roma (Gypsy) 0.1%
  • Sami 0.1% [18]

Languages-There are two official languages of Finland, Finnish and Swedish. Within the last 15 years the Indigenous Sami people have established the right maintain their own language. There are a few other minority languages that are spoken and recognized in Finland including Estonian, Russian, Finnish Romani and Finnish Sign Language. [19]

Health & Education[edit]

Health-When compared to other thriving nations like the United States and The United Kingdom, Finland is a considerably healthy country. The average age of the total population is approximately 79 years old which ranks among the top 40 countries in the world. [20][21]

  • About 22 % of the citizens are daily smokers which ranks 25th most of the top 30 countries.
  • There is a high rate of heart disease (143.8 per 100,000) which ranks 5th most of the top 26 countries.
  • About 13 % of the population in Finland is obese which ranks 15th most of the top 28 countries.
  • There is a high rate of suicides (43.4 per 100,000) which ranks 9th most of the top 80 countries.
  • There is .1% of the population that is living with HIV/AIDS which ranks 33rd lowest out of the top 170 countries.[22]

There are some categories the Finland ranks very well among the world and there are others that they do not rank so high. For the most part Finland is in the middle to top of most of the health statistics that are reported.


Education-There is a section of the Finnish constitution devoted to education.

Section 16 - Educational rights-"Everyone has the right to basic education free of charge. Provisions on the duty to receive education are laid down by an Act. The public authorities shall, as provided in more detail by an Act, guarantee for everyone equal opportunity to receive other educational services in accordance with their ability and special needs, as well as the opportunity to develop themselves without being prevented by economic hardship. The freedom of science, the arts and higher education is guaranteed."[23]

This section of the constitution devoted to education allows Finland to rank in the top countries when it comes to education. After the age of 15, the Literacy rate is 100% and everyone can read and write. [24]Having a 100% literacy rate is the highest of the world, and only several other countries have accomplished this. Finland Ranks 9th among the top 100 countries in the world by having an average of 10 years of school for adults in the country.[25]

The basic education in Finland begins at age seven and ends at age sixteen and the students can attend any school in their designated district. [26] Finland has two national languages, which means that the people who speak Swedish as a first language have the right to learn in the schooling system in Swedish. [27] The main goal of the Finnish schooling system is to provide a high level education for everyone. The key terms of the Finnish school system are: quality, efficiency, equity and internationalization. [28]The focus and emphasis that Finland puts on the schooling system allows the country to remain at the top the ranks in the world for being and intelligent country.[29]


Colleges & Universities-Finland Offers 20+ Colleges and Universities[30]

  • Åbo Akademi University
  • Häme Polytechnic
  • Helsinki Business Polytechnic
  • Helsinki School of Economics
  • Helsinki University of Technology
  • Lahti Polytechnic
  • Lappeenranta University of Technology
  • Oulu Institute of Tecnology
  • Satakunta Polytechnic
  • Sibelius Academy
  • Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Finland
  • Tampere Institute of Technology
  • Tampere University of Technology
  • University of Art and Design Helsinki
  • University of Helsinki
  • University of Joensuu
  • University of Jyväskylä
  • University of Kuopio
  • University of Oulu
  • University of Tampere
  • University of Turku
  • University of Vaasa

Brief History[edit]

The Finnish Coat of Arms.

Finland is a province that up until the 19th century was under Swedish rule. The Sami and Romani (gypsy) people are the indigenous people of Finland. The Sami and Romani originally migrated over from Sweden when Finland was still part of the kingdom of Sweden.[31] In 1917, Finland became a completely independent country. During World War II Finland declared its neutrality and was able to hold off a soviet invasion. Several years after the end of World War II, Finland and the Soviet Union signed a peace treaty. In 1995 Finland became a member of the European Union. [32] The the last century, Finland has really excelled as a country.

Crime Rates & Public Opinion[edit]

Crime rates in Finland are in the high to middle rankings when compared with countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. [33]Finland has open boarders which allow terrorists, fugitives, and organized crime can freely move in and out of the country.[34] The typical crimes that occur in Finland range from anything like Vandalism to theft of personal property. Drug Crimes are also on the rise in Finland, and alcohol being one of the major problems. In Finland, one of the major contributors to crimes is alcohol. Finland has the lowest number of law enforcement officers among all European nations, and the total amount of crimes could be a direct result of that. [35][36]

  • Ranked 3rd most of the top 50 countries with 101.5 total crimes per 1,000 people.
  • Ranked 16th highest drug offences with 13, 857 per 100,000 people.
  • Ranked 58th highest in murders with only 132.
  • Ranked 53rd highest in robberies with a little over 2,000
  • Ranked 6th highest percentage of Assault victims with about 2.1%[37]

These statistics are some of the highlights and low points of the Finland. The part of policing that needs to be focused on the most is recruiting. Finland has the lowest number of law enforcement and the total number of crimes is correlated with that. There are not many problems with robberies and murders when compared to other countries, but assault and drug crimes should be the main concern for law enforcement and the country as a whole.[38]


Common Crimes in Finland can be anything from Vandalism to Theft of personal property. Like any other country, there are some violent crimes. Drug Crimes are also on the rise in Finland, and alcohol being one of them, is a large problem. As stated, the crimes that are usually committed in Finland are non-violent, and alcohol is a major contributor to the violent crimes.

In terms of reporting crimes, there may be numbers that are not truly accurate because they are not reported. For example, sexual assault is a crime that maybe some people are ashamed to report so it will go unreported. Small cases of theft might go unreported because they are small and insignificant. Crime rates will never truly be completely accurate because not everything is reported.

  • 112 is the Finnish Equivalent to the U.S. "911" [39]

Elections[edit]

Finland is constitutional Republic which is mainly run by the Prime Minister. The Prime minister’s job is to oversee everything that happens with the government.

Parliment- Finland's Parliament is home to 200 parliamentary seats, each of which is elected one time every fours years. They are the Legislative branch of the goverment. When the elections for the members of parliament are held, each citizen of Finland has one vote that they are allowed to cast for any candidate that they feel is worthy of the position. The Voters vote for specific candidates, rather then their affiliated party. Everyone who is a citizen of Finland and of age to vote is eligible to become a candidate for parliament.[40]

The Current President of The Republic, Tarja Halonen.

President of the Republic- The President of the Republic is the executive branch of the government. He/she is voted into office very similarly to the way that the parliament members are. There is a direct vote, meaning that each of the citizens has one vote to cast for whichever candidate they feel is best qualified. A majority of 50% is required to win the presidency and if that percentage is not reached, there is a second election between the two top candidates. In the second election, the candidate who accumulates the most votes will become the next president. In the situation that there is only one candidate, there is no election held and that person is appointed to the position without and election. To become president of the republic the candidate must be a natural born citizen, and must have the right to vote. The presidential term last for six years compared to the four year term of the parliamentary members. Each president is allowed to have no more then two consecutive presidential terms in office.[41]


The Prime Minister- The Goal of the Prime Minister is to run the government. The Prime minister is selected by parliament and then appointed by the president of the republic. In order for the nominee to be approved, at least half of parliament must vote for the nominee. If the nominee does not get half of the votes, then another person will be nominated. In the event that the second nominee does not get more then half of the votes from parliament, then there is an open vote, and the member of parliament who receives the most votes is then appointed Prime Minister.[42]


Political Parties-[43] During the elections, even thought the voters are voting for certain candidates, there still are a handful of political parties.

  • Social Democratic Party
  • Center Party
  • National Coalition (Conservative) Party
  • Leftist Alliance
  • Swedish People's Party
  • Green League
  • Christian Democrats
  • True Finns or The Finns

Judicial Review[edit]

There are two courts that are in charge of Judicial Review, The Supreme Court, and the Supreme Administrative court. These are the two highest courts in the country and their goal is to make sure that the rights of the individual are being honored as well as if the laws are correctly being enforced. The supreme administrative court deals with administrative issues, and the Supreme Court deals with everything else. There is one other form for judicial Review in Finland, and that is the President of the Republic can grant a pardon for any crimes charged to a defendant.[44]

Courts and Criminal Law[edit]

In Finland there are seven different type of courts:

  • The Supreme Court
  • The Supreme Administrative Court
  • The District Courts
  • The Courts of Appeal
  • The Administrative Courts
  • The Market Court
  • The Labour Court
  • The Insurance Court [45]


The Supreme Court is responsible for civil, commercial, and criminal issues that arise to the Supreme Court. The Administrative Supreme Court is responsible for administrative matters that arise at the highest level. The other courts that are listed are the highest level of their expertise and are specially designated to focus on one area of law. In the highest court rooms, the Supreme and Supreme Administrative courts; there is a president of the court with a handful of justices present. There is a minimum of five justices that need to be present to hear a case and make a decision about what will happen to the defendant.[46]

The job of the prosecutors in criminal cases is to make sure that the defendant is being charged with a penalty that is equivalent to the crime that he committed. On the other side of the court room, there are defense lawyers both private and public. If the defendant can not afford a lawyer, a public one will be issued. The defense lawyers are trying to aid the defendant in any way they can. The sole purpose of the judges is to enforce the laws. When prosecutors are examining the police evidence, they determine if there are ground to try the defendant on any charges. [47]

The Constitution contains several personal rights that citizens are entitled to when it comes to the courts system.

  • A fair trial
  • Good public administration
  • Open proceedings
  • The right to be heard
  • The right to receive a reasoned decision
  • The right to appeal against the decision [48]

Inquisitorial-Finland's style of procedural law is Inquisitorial. There are police investigations that are carried out when a crime occurs. Depending on the severity of the crime different prosecutors will deeply examine the evidence to decide if there is even enough to try the defendant on any charges. In some circumstances, if there is not enough evidence, the defendant will not even be tried. The prosecutors depend on careful investigations to determine the guilt.

Punishment[edit]

In a court case, the prosecutors are trying to establish if is enough evidence to make a case. While the case is being heard, the judges are trying to enfore the law as well as they can. There are several punishments that are given out during court cases.

  • Imprisonment
  • Fine(s)
  • Fixed-sum fine
  • Community service

In some cases, community service can take the place of imprisonment for anything up to 8 months. The community service is helping with various non-profit organizations. In the cases of juveniles where they can not afford to pay a fine, and the community service being too much for them, they are supervised while worked and put onto an education plan. This shows how committed that Finland is to education, by trying to get troubled young individuals back on track and in school.[49]

For imprisonment, there is a minimum time of 14 days and a maximum time of 12 years that you can stay in prison. After the fixed sentences, there are lifetime sentences. There are chances for parole under some circumstances, and the only way that a person with a life time sentence can be released is by a presidential pardon. [50]


  • Corporal Punishment was abolished in Finland because it was deemed Unlawful by the constitution.[51][52]


Prisoners- Finland ranks on the lower end of total number of prisoners.

  • Ranked 108th out of 160 countries with a little over 3,000 inmates
  • Ranked 113th out of 164 countries with 71 inmates per 100,000 citizens.

[53]

Legal Personnel[edit]

Judges-Judges are appointed by the president of the republic and the must be tenured before they can be voted it. They must also have a Degree in law from a university. Like the Supreme Court judges, the Prosecutors in the Supreme Court are also appointed by the President of the Republic. The prosecution team is lead by the "prosecutor-general" or the highest prosecutor.[54][55]

Prosecutors- Like the judges, the Prosecutors in the Supreme Court are also appointed by the President of the Republic. The prosecution team is lead by the "prosecutor-general" or the highest prosecutor. Under The prosecutor-general, there are state prosecutors that sort through evidence and decided whether the country has grounds to pursue a court case. Local Prosecutors of selected by the Prosecutor-general. The local prosecutors Examine evidence from prior police investigation and determine whether to pursue the case or decide not to prosecute.[56]

Advocates & Legal Aid-There are public defenders that are provided by the state, however The defendants in the cases are not required to have legal aid and are able to defend themselves. The amount the defendant has to pay the public defenders is determined by a percentage of the total income that the defendant earns. They defendant also has the choice to provided his/her own private legal aid.[57]

When the judges are elected, they are a judge for life with a forced retirement age of 70. [58] The Lawyers are required to attend a school for a formal degree and they are also required to pass a BAR exam which licenses them to be a lawyer. [59]


Law Enforcement[edit]

The Finnish law enforcement system can easily be broken down; there is the Police Department of the Ministry of the Interior functions which is the main source of authority in Finland. That department is in command of the National Bureau of Investigation, the National Traffic Police, the Security Police, the Police College of Finland, the Police Technical Center, the Helsinki Police Department, and the 24 local police departments are under the command of The Police Department of the Ministry of the Interior functions.[60] [61] This group of Law Enforcement teams can be categorized as Centralized Multiple Coordinated system under the taxonomy of police structures. Each of the groups has a specific task and category of law enforcement to deal with.

  • The National Bureau of Investigation- This task force focuses on organized crime and professional crime. [62]
  • The National Traffic Police- This Task force focuses on.. well.. traffic.
  • The Security Police- This task force focuses on all and any criminal activity that is a threat to the national

security of Finland. [63]

  • The Police College of Finaland- This task force is responsible recruiting, researching, and training Police candidates. [64]
  • The Police Technical Center- This task force is responsible for acquiring new equipment and supplying the police with better technology. [65]
  • The Helsinki Police Department- This Task Force is directly under the Police Department of the Ministry of the Interior functions and along with being a local police department, has a few other duties. [66]


The Police officers use badges to distinguish their rank. These badges can be located on their collar, hat, or shoulder.[67]

OVERALL POLICE DUTIES

  • "Under the Police Act, the function of the police is to secure judicial and social order, to maintain public order and security, to prevent and investigate crimes, and to submit cases to prosecutors for decision (consideration of charges)."[68]


The Military is a fairly new concept for finland. It was formed during the 1917 revolution in Russia to calm the situation. The Finnish military consists of an Army, Navy, and Air force. [69]

Family Law[edit]

Who can marry?

  • Anyone over the age of 18 who is not already presently married.
  • There are also exceptions for parties under the age of 18 that only can be granted by the ministry of justice[70]

Marriage-There are both Civil marriage ceremonies as well as religious ceremonies. Before a marriage takes place, a request for and examination for impediments must be place and carried out by the local register office, or by the church that you plan on being married in. The examination for impediments is simply like a background check to make sure that the two applicants for marriage do not have a parent-child relationship, a sibling relationship, a half sibling relationship, uncle/aunt-niece/nephew relationship, or an adoptive parent-child relationship.[71]

  • In some cases with permission from the ministry of justice, there can be a marriage with the uncle/aunt-niece/nephew relationship, or an adoptive parent-child relationship.[72]

Divorce-The two parties must first approach divorce in district court. After they first approach of divorce, the case is postponed until an undetermined date called a reconsideration period. They courts are giving the two parties the chance to think things over. After this reconsideration period of at least six months, a divorce can be granted it both parties want dissolve the marriage. Another way that the two parties can be divorced is if they live separated for two straight years. During the divorce hearings, there are also talks about child support payments or payments to spouse to survive, the custody of the children as well as visiting rights of the child, also which spouse is allowed to stay in the current house.[73]

Inheritance-Inheritances are items that can be taxed if the decedent or a beneficiary lived in Finland at the time of death. The tax is determined by how much the estate that is inherited is valued. In terms are marriages, there are special agreements that you can make that determine that if you one spouse passes away, the other is not entitled to everything that that the deceased spouse owned. [74]

Social Inequality[edit]

The Sami Flag.

The Social Inequality in Finland is present with the Sami and Romani (gypsy) people. These two groups of people are the indigenous people of the land and are not treated fairly. The Sami have just recently made strides in the last 15 years to get the rights that they deserve. Section 17 of the Finnish Constitution states that "The Sami, as an indigenous people, as well as the Roma and other groups, have the right to maintain and develop their own language and culture. Provisions on the right of the Sami to use the Sami language before the authorities are laid down by an Act. The rights of persons using sign language and of persons in need of interpretation or translation aid owing to disability shall be guaranteed by an Act.[75] [76]

Human Rights[edit]

Finland's fundamental rights are protected by their own constitution. As of the latest update in 2007, their constitution is comprised of 13 chapters, each of which goes into the rights and rules of the citizens as well as the government.[77]

Chapter two of the Finnish Constitution is about basic rights and liberties and 23 sections of that deal with individual rights and liberties of the citizens.[78]

Rights and Civil Liberties: The Right to equality, The right to life, personal liberty and integrity, The principle of legality in criminal cases, Freedom of movement, The right to privacy, Freedom of religion and conscience, Freedom of expression and right of access to information, Freedom of assembly and freedom of association, Electoral and participatory rights, Protection of property, Educational rights, Right to one's language and culture, The right to work and the freedom to engage in commercial activity, The right to social security, Responsibility for the environment, Protection under the law, Protection of basic rights and liberties, and Basic rights and liberties in situations of emergency.[79] By making observations and comparisons the rights look as if many of them are paralleled with those of the United States Bill Of Rights. There is one right that the citizens have that sounds a little obscure, Responsibility for the environment.

  • "Nature and its biodiversity, the environment and the national heritage are the responsibility of everyone.

The public authorities shall endeavour to guarantee for everyone the right to a healthy environment and for everyone the possibility to influence the decisions that concern their own living environment." [80]

This idea may sound a little strange but if you look at it closely, the country is trying to promote a clean environment that everyone can enjoy. This right is something that should be taken into consideration by the world as a whole in an effort to have better living conditions.

Equality

  • "Everyone is equal before the law. No one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person. Children shall be treated equally and as individuals and they shall be allowed to influence matters pertaining to themselves to a degree corresponding to their level of development. Equality of the sexes is promoted in societal activity and working life, especially in the determination of pay and the other terms of employment, as provided in more detail by an Act." [81]

Equality is the first thing that is noted in the right and civil liberties chapter and it is obviously very important to the Finnish citizens. It is interesting to note, that they even give equality rights in some circumstances to children. An important thing that is noted in this act is that there is equality of the sexes especially when it comes to pay rate and job opportunities. Looking back again it seems that these rights parallel those of the United States.

Travel Info[edit]

For travel information visit

http://www.finland.org/Public/Default.aspx

http://www.finland.org/Public/Default.aspx

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1115.html#safety

Works Cited[edit]

[82]

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