A delegation from the Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality will visit Finland and Sweden this week as part of the reviews it is carrying out on penal reform and prostitution legislation.
The Joint committee recently established a sub-Committee on Penal Reform and has conducted hearings from interested groups/individuals to assist it in its analysis of the recommendations of the Thornton Hall Project Review Group in respect of non-custodial alternatives to imprisonment.
On Tuesday, 13th November, the delegation will be in Helsinki, Finland to meet with the Legal Affairs Committee, experts from Ministry of Justice and from Criminal Sanctions Agency to discuss the penal system in operation in Finland.
As well as receiving presentations on the Finnish penal system, the delegation will visit Suomenlinna Island Open Prison where the main focus will be on preparation of prisoners for release.
Committee Chairman David Stanton, TD, said: “Finland’s penal system is regarded as a model of best practice. As we review our own penal reform system, it is both timely and opportune to view at first hand the Finnish model and meet those involved in its administration. It is important that we examine the experience from other jurisdictions and consider potential models for penal reform and alternative strategies such as ‘earned temporary release’; release under community supervision; parole reform and enhanced remission.”
On Wednesday, 14th November, the delegation will be in Sweden to meet with officials and politicians to discuss its legislation on prostitution. In Stockholm, the delegation will receive an overview from officials at the Ministry for Justice of the Swedish legislation prohibiting purchases of sexual services. It will also have meetings with Detective Inspector Kajsa Wahlberg, National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings, Patrik Cederlöf, National Coordinator against Prostitution and Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation, Chief Prosecutor Lise Tamm of the Stockholm Trafficking Policing Unit and Members of the Swedish Parliament’s Committee for Justice Affairs at the Riksdag.
Deputy Stanton said: “Again, Sweden’s prostitution legislation is held up as model of best practice and an example of enlightened law-making. The criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services rather than the sale of sexual services was regarded as unique when the Swedish legislation was first passed. As legislators and members of the committee responsible for reviewing Ireland’s prostitution legislation, it is important to meet with fellow parliamentarians in another jurisdiction to discuss their experiences of the drafting and implementing of this ground-breaking legislation, while it is also important to meet with those responsible for policing the legislation to discuss how it works in reality.”