Detention issue

Juvenile prisoners

FRA research findings

View details

Legal instruments & key provisions

Legal instrument Key provision
Imprisonment Act (Vankeuslaki/Fängelselag)Prisoners who are under 18 years old must be placed in a prisons where they can be kept separate from adult prisoners unless their best interest requires otherwise. When enforcing the imprisonment of juveniles who have committed their offences when under 21 years of age, special attention shall be paid to the needs arising from the age and stage of development of the prisoner.


Year Recommendation Report
2016The NPM pointed out that minors should always be accommodated in separate facilities to which adult prisoners have no access. When activities are organised for minors outside their cells together with adult prisoners, supervision must be sufficient. Report details
2017According to the established legal praxis of the Ombudsman, the reason for placing minor prisoners separately from adult prisoners is to ensure their safety and protection. The possibility to deviate from this rule should be interpreted only very narrowly. Placing minor and adult prisoners together cannot be an established practice or the only option available. Minors should be provided with separate accommodation units with no access by adult prisoners. However, arranging for separate accommodation for a minor must not mean that the minor is placed in isolation. If minor prisoners participate in activities outside the cell together with adult prisoners, it is imperative that the activities are sufficiently supervised. Report details
2020The NPM report states that minors continue to be accommodated on the same wards with adults and, currently, there were no facilities reserved for minors. In the Deputy-Ombudsman's view, the problem is specifically the unsuitable space solutions in prisons and probably also a lack of staff. Dedicated, suitable facilities should exist and be reserved for minors, but currently there were none. Working with minors and ensuring sufficient supervision when they are in contact with adult prisoners is also likely to require more staff than working with adults. In addition, the staff should have special expertise in working with young people. According to the Deputy-Ombudsman, Vantaa prison and Turku prison had tried to address the problem by establishing a ward for young people. However, even these wards did not meet the requirements of the regulations and recommendations because the people placed in them were mainly adult remand prisoners and prisoners serving sentences, albeit young. Report details