Minority Ombudsman Eva Biaudet says that the recruitment of Thai citizens to pick wild berries in Finland has characteristics resembling human trafficking. She says that there certainly is exploitation, and that the treatment of the pickers should be reconsidered.
The newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet reported on Wednesday that Biaudet had said that the activity actually involved human trafficking. Biaudet said that the paper had misquoted her, but that suspicions of human trafficking need to be examined.
“Pickers may have been encouraged to come to Finland by giving false information about conditions here. They might not have the possibilities to disengage from the situation, because their debt is unreasonable compared with the money earned.”
Biaudet is following the situation, and plans to convene a meeting this autumn to discuss the situation with officials.
In Finland, under so-called everyman’s rights legislation, money earned from picking wild berries and mushrooms is not taxed, and foreigners do not require work permits.