• Egert Rünne

The project “Monitoring of quality of status determination procedures and access to the state legal aid in the Republic of Estonia”, developed by UNHCR in partnership with Eesti Inimõiguste Keskus (EHRC), seeks to ensure:

  • The access to and quality of refugee status determination procedures in Estonia;
  • The access to and quality of legal assistance provided to asylum-seekers in Estonia, including quality of legal counselling at the reception and detention centres.

It is planned that the EHRC lawyers will conduct monitoring visits to the detention centre in Harku and the reception centre for asylum-seekers in Vao (Vägeva) in the course of 2016. Additionally, the ECHR lawyers will provide legal counselling services for asylum-seekers twice a week at the office of the EHRC in Tallinn. There will be also an opportunity to submit requests for legal information at the web-site of the EHRC as well as by e-mail. The primary goal of the legal counselling will be to provide initial legal information and advice about national asylum system, reception conditions, available rights and services, also consequences of secondary movements to individual asylum-seekers.

The monitoring visits will be used as a tool for collecting and updating information about the reception and detention conditions in Estonia, also effective access to legal information and assistance as prescribed by international and regional standards. The collected information will be used by UNHCR in its advocacy work on preventing possible human rights violations at either individual or systematic level, also highlighting areas that need improvement. These activities shall ensure the full respect of fundamental rights by asylum-seekers in Estonia.

Whenever necessary and in consultations with UNHCR, the EHRC lawyers will address the identified shortcomings through targeted legal actions or interventions to the respective national state institutions, including Ombudsman Office and courts or international and regional human rights monitoring bodies. This will be done on the basis of analyzing first instance asylum decisions, paying attention also on cases involving persons relocated or resettled to Estonia on the basis of the EU Council decisions and relevant national programs in the area of international protection.

Whenever necessary, the EHRC will also contribute to organization and facilitation of training seminars and workshops for national stakeholders (including the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, judiciary and advocates or lawyers).