The US State Department published their yearly human rights report about the situation in the world, including Estonia. The report states that there were no egregious human rights violations in Estonia. However, there were a few reports of excessive use of police force during arrests, poor conditions in some detention centers, and the situation facing a large number of noncitizen residents whose rate of naturalization remained low.
Other problems included: domestic violence; salary inequality between women and men; incidents of child abuse; trafficking, primarily of women for sexual exploitation and of both men and women for forced labor elsewhere in the EU; inadequate access to public services by persons with disabilities, especially in rural areas; and harassment and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons, which reportedly remained routine within society.
Estonian Human Rights Centre comments on the report:
The 2017 human rights report by the US State Department reflects the situation in Estonia well, giving an overview of challenges that Estonian government and society is facing and needs to act on. Not all problematic fields are covered, including the lack of effective hate speech and hate crime legislation, no progress on the implementation regulations of the civil partnership act or the lack of a national human rights institution. This is could be partly due to the fact that the US bases its reports on the national priorities and specifics, but also related to the structure of the report.
Even though the new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did not launch the report in person, we hope that the United States continue to provide the overview of the situation of human rights in Estonia with the same quality and depth. This continuous feedback is especially important for a small state that is not always covered in human rights reports and usually falls under the radar of international attention.
Together with similar reports by other organisations, the US human rights report also complements and provides additional support for the recommendations and findings of the report “Human Rights in Estonia” published biannually by the Estonian Human Rights Centre.