Estonian NGOs submitted a shadow report on the human rights situation to the UN

Estonia should ensure the availability of psychiatric care for minors, make public spaces more accessible, criminalise hate speech and alleviate the burden on women as informal carers. These and several other human rights shortcomings are highlighted in a joint report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council by a network of human rights NGOs in Estonia.

The shadow report was drafted by the Equal Treatment Network for the first time in contrast to the country’s regular report, but most of the issues raised are the same as those repeatedly highlighted in the UNHRC in the past. For each problem, the report also outlines possible solutions. “In the report, we have made a number of recommendations to the state that would really help to improve the lives of the Estonian people. They can be used to create a better school environment, improve services and their accessibility to people who need help, as well as provide more effective protection against discrimination,” said the author of the report, Kadi Viik.

The report was written on the basis of assessments by experts in the field and the experience stories of the Estonian people. “We met with local government leaders and local residents in five counties and collected people’s stories through an online survey to get a better picture of how Estonians see the human rights situation. Quite a number of topics and proposals were also covered in the joint report, such as expanding the availability of support services in schools and criminalising hate speech,” said Uljana Ponomarjova, coordinator of the Equal Treatment Network. “In order to assess the national situation, it is very important to communicate not only with specialists but also with people in communities across Estonia, because human rights concern each of us,” she added.

In May 2021, the UN Human Rights Council will hold Estonia’s third periodic review, where the activities of the state in ensuring and protecting human rights will be assessed at the international level. The review is based on independent reports. In October, a joint report was submitted to the UN by the Equal Treatment Network, which includes the Estonian Human Rights Centre, Estonian Union for Child Welfare, the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People, MTÜ Oma Tuba / Feministeerium, the Estonian LGBT Association, the Estonian Vegan Society, the Estonian National Youth Council and Federation of Estonian Student Unions. The report is fully public in both Estonian and English.

The Equal Treatment Network project VÕIVIK is funded by the European Economic Area Grants Active Citizens’ Fund, which is operated in Estonia by the Open Estonia Foundation in cooperation with the Estonian Civil Society.

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