Rule of Law in Finland

Justice

Effective justice systems are essential for upholding the rule of law. Independence, quality and efficiency are the defined parameters of an effective justice system, whatever the model of the national legal system and tradition in which it is anchored. Whilst the organisation of justice in the Member States falls within the competence of the Member States, when they are exercising that competence, Member States must ensure that their national justice systems provide for effective judicial protection. The independence of national courts is fundamental to ensuring such judicial protection. National courts ensure that the rights and obligations provided under EU law are enforced effectively. As re-affirmed by the European Court of Justice, the very existence of effective judicial review to ensure compliance with EU law is of the essence for the rule of law. Effective justice systems are also the basis for mutual trust, which is the bedrock of the common area of freedom, justice and security, an investment friendly environment, the sustainability of long-term growth and the protection of EU financial interests. The European Court of Justice has further clarified the requirements stemming from EU law regarding judicial independence. The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights also provides for key standards to be respected to safeguard judicial independence.

Independence

green
The Finnish justice system is characterised by a very high level of perceived independence.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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A new independent body has been established to safeguard judicial independence.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Quality

green
The structure of the prosecution service has been reformed to improve its effectiveness.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Certain challenges remain as regards the digitalisation of the justice system.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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The services offered by state legal aid offices have been expanded and it is now possible to receive certain services remotely.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The new National Courts Administration has played an important role in supporting courts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Efficiency

green
The justice system manages its caseload efficiently.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Anti-corruption

The fight against corruption is essential for maintaining the rule of law. Corruption undermines the functioning of the state and of public authorities at all levels and is a key enabler of organised crime 48 . Effective anti-corruption frameworks, transparency and integrity in the exercise of state power can strengthen legal systems and trust in public authorities. Fighting corruption needs to be based on evidence about its prevalence and form in a given country, the conditions that enable corruption and the legal, institutional and other incentives that can be used to prevent, detect and sanction corruption.

Institutional Framework

yellow
Finland scores 86/100 in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index and ranks 2nd in the European Union and 3rd globally.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Finland has the legal framework to combat corruption largely in place.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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A draft anti-corruption strategy 2017-2021, submitted to the Ministry of Justice in 2017, has yet to be adopted by the Government.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Prevention

yellow
A Code of Conduct for civil servants and top executive functions is under preparation.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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There is no explicit definition of conflict of interest in the legislation.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Asset disclosure for senior Government officials is regulated by the Act on Public Officials in Central Government.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Work on introducing a transparency register is ongoing.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Certain restrictions exist to limit ‘revolving doors’ and an extension to these measures is currently being prepared.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Repressive measures

green
Several different authorities are jointly responsible for efforts to combat corruption.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has competences to investigate corruption.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Media Freedom

All Member States have legal frameworks in place to protect media freedom and pluralism and EU citizens broadly enjoy high standards of media freedom and pluralism. Freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism and the right of access to information are generally enshrined in the Constitution or in secondary law. Media pluralism and media freedom are key enablers for the rule of law, democratic accountability and the fight against corruption. The murders of journalists who were investigating high-level corruption and organised crime allegations have been a wake-up call reminding Member States of the obligation to guarantee an enabling environment for journalists, protect their safety and pro-actively promote media freedom and media pluralism.

Regulatory authorities

green
Following a recent merger, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom) acts as the independent media regulatory body.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The Finnish Council for Mass Media (Julkisen sanan neuvosto) is a self-regulating committee established by publishers and journalists.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Transparency of Media

yellow
There are no specific rules governing transparency of media ownership, but voluntary disclosure is common.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Journalists' Protection

green
Finland has a strong tradition of transparency in government.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The framework for protection of journalists appears robust.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The government is reflecting on additional measures to protect journalists from online attacks.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Other Institutional Issues

Institutional checks and balances are at the core of the rule of law. They guarantee the functioning, cooperation and mutual control of State organs so that power is exercised by one state authority with the scrutiny of others. In addition to an effective justice systems, checks and balances rely on a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws, the separation of powers, the constitutional and judicial review of laws, a transparent and high-quality public administration as well as effective independent authorities such as ombudsperson institutions or national human rights institutions.

Preparing and enacting laws

green
An impact assessment framework and comprehensive consultation process are part of a particularly inclusive framework for enacting legislation.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Emergency powers were used in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and have been subject to constitutional review.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Civil Society

green
The National Democracy Programme aims at further improving the framework for civil society and participatory democracy.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Independent Authorities

green
A reform process has been initiated to clarify the mandates of different independent authorities safeguarding fundamental rights.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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