The right to a dignified life

Illustrations: Warda Ahmed

Illustrations: Warda Ahmed

Paragraphs 1 and 2 in Section 7 of the Constitution of Finland stipulate that:

Everyone has the right to life, personal liberty, integrity and security.

No one shall be sentenced to death, tortured or otherwise treated in a manner violating human dignity.

Section 19 of the constitution states that:

Those who cannot obtain the means necessary for a life of dignity have the right to receive indispensable subsistence and care.

Everyone shall be guaranteed by an Act the right to basic subsistence in the event of unemployment, illness, and disability and during old age as well as at the birth of a child or the loss of a provider.

The public authorities shall guarantee for everyone, as provided in more detail by an Act, adequate social, health and medical services and promote the health of the population. Moreover, the public authorities shall support families and others responsible for providing for children so that they have the ability to ensure the wellbeing and personal development of the children.

The public authorities shall promote the right of everyone to housing and the opportunity to arrange their own housing.

The right to indispensable subsistence and care stipulated in Section 19 of the Constitution of Finland is a subjective right that applies to everybody. It exists as an independent and unique right that does not require any other kind of legislation to oblige authorities. It covers everybody residing in Finland and must be applied to all irrespective of how long a person has been in Finland, their nationality, or other similar factors. The nature of this assistance, however, should be considered a last resort. The wording of the law places the onus on the individual to prioritize their own subsistence before receiving it from the government.