Skip to Content

The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman and Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities organised training for public legal aid attorneys about people with disabilities as legal aid clients

The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman held the first part of the "People with disabilities as legal aid clients" training, "Advocacy in discrimination cases", on 24 January 2024. The second part of the training, titled "Advocacy in matters involving disability services", will be held on 6 November next autumn. The training is provided in cooperation with the Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities, and the Ministry of Justice's training team has been involved in its planning and implementation. Julkiset oikeusavustajat ry (the association of Finnish public legal aid attorneys) had identified a need for training that would better equip them to tackle the legal processes related to discrimination. The training also stemmed from a need to learn more about disabilities, discrimination against people with disabilities, and intervening in such discrimination.

The first part of the training day was held as contact teaching in a classroom and was attended by over 40 public legal aid attorneys from all over Finland. Non-Discrimination Ombudsman Kristina Stenman opened the day with a talk on the tasks and role of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman in investigating discrimination.

The training day focused on disability as a basis for discrimination and featured examination of the Non-Discrimination Act through diverse perspectives and legal cases. The training also addressed the legal practice of the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Various talks on disability and accessibility were given during the day, for example on identifying discrimination, neglect of accessibility as a form of discrimination, discrimination against people with disabilities in working life, and people with disabilities as crime victims. The training also addressed claiming compensation for discrimination victims under section 23 of the Non-Discrimination Act and the amount of such compensation.

A reform of the Disability Services Act is currently underway in Parliament. The UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities is intended to cover the concept of disability as broadly as possible, without excluding any form of disability from the scope of the Convention. Many of the talks given during the day underlined the importance of a context-oriented and environment-oriented definition of disability, that is, focusing on the connections of disabilities and society instead of specific diagnoses.

The seminar was chaired by Heikki Kotajärvi, Public Legal Aid Attorney, from the Pirkanmaa Public Legal Aid Office. The training was implemented in cooperation with the Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities, the Ministry of Justice's training team and Julkiset oikeusavustajat ry.