Human Rights in Estonia 2013

As conclusions of chapters of the “Human Rights in Estonia 2013” report, experts provided recommendations for the improvement of the described human rights situation in Estonia:

1. To concentrate on decreasing the demand for trafficking in persons by directing respective information projects to certain target groups. To develop the legal aid system established for the assistance of victims of trafficking in persons in order to guarantee the provision of immediate legal aid and representation to the victims. To develop the victim support system aimed at the assistance of victims of trafficking in persons and sexually abused minors.

2. The definition of torture must include mental as well as physical abuse. Determination of the degree of torture should consider also the duration, nature and physical and psychological consequences of abuse, as well as the sex, age and state of health of the person. Measures of prevention of torture and abuse should be integrated in policies, and clear mechanisms and possibilities of reporting should be developed for the purposes of processing and investigation of reports.

3. To provide the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner with sufficient budget funding for proper performance of all legal duties. To establish additional measures for the improvement of legal awareness of the Russian-speaking community, for example to make the texts of significant legislations freely available in Russian and to consider adding information in Russian on the web page.

4. The legislative and executive power should review the procedure of publication of personal information online, taking into account the differences in nature of the Internet, compared to publication on paper. In regulation of surveillance, to consider persons’ right of privacy of private and family life more than in the past. To conduct investigation in the Security Authorities Surveillance Select Committee of the Riigikogu in order to identify if and to which extent the security authorities of Estonia have been connected to wide scale surveillance programs of USA.

5. Work on media ethics must continue, as there is a constant emergence of new challenges – for example, how to enforce ethical media principles online. As online contents can be created and distributed by any person, and not just journalists and media professionals, it is necessary to spread information also through public discussions and education of the youth.

6. To unify protection against discrimination based on all grounds, and to review the coherence of the Draft Equality of Treatment Act with the constitution and to broaden the area of application of the Act when necessary. To bring the financing of theGender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner into accord with the duties of the Commissioner. To adopt field-specific development plans to advance gender equality and to ensure equal treatment based on other grounds.

7. To involve parents and stakeholder groups in the process of shaping the school network and to define the decision-making jurisdictions of local governments and the state. To improve the mechanism of securing the interests of children with special needs. To emphasize the principle if involvement education in making decisions in the field of educational policy.

8. It is necessary to accelerate work on a draft legislation which would allow double citizenship to persons with citizenship by birth in case such persons have the citizenships of Estonia and another country (e.g. a member state of the European Union) both by birth. The problem associated with children with undetermined citizenship is still in a need for solution. Nationality-based contrasting in election campaigns must end.  It is necessary to establish a migration strategy above the level of ministries, and to involve different parties accordingly.

9. To adopt a cohabitation act, regulating the legal relations of partners of the same sex on grounds equal to conjugal relationships. To determine the legal status of intersexual persons and to establish the procedure of provision of medical services to such persons. To adopt rules, providing protection against hate speech and discrimination to LGBTI persons.

10. Estonia should introduce a border monitoring system in order to provide access to asylum proceedings in border crossing points of Estonia. To build a decent system for helping refugees to integrate into society. Not to allocate the asylum seekers in detention centres under the presumption that the person would escape due to his illegal entry into the country.

11. To inform the society more on children’s rights and to introduce the Convention on the Rights of the Child to adults, children and the youth. To ensure a more effective implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the assurance of the basic social rights of the child. For the sake of better protection of children’s rights, to review the Citizenship Act.

12. When preparing the support of capacity for work reform, the bottlenecks in related fields must not be left unnoticed, and it is vital to establish specific measures for their elimination. To develop a broad national strategy for the protection of rights of disabled persons based on an approach relying on human rights.

Chapters of Annual Report of the Estonian Human Rights Centre 2013:

Foreword – Daniel Vaarik
Chapter 1 – Prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Chapter 2 – Prohibition of slavery and forced labour
Chapter 3 – Right to a fair trial
Chapter 4 – Right to respect for family and private life
Chapter 5 – Freedom of expression
Chapter 6 – Freedom of assembly and association
Chapter 7 – Prohibition of discrimination
Chapter 8 – Right to education
Chapter 9 – Right to free elections
Chapter 10 – Situation of national minorities
Chapter 11 – LGBTI situation in Estonia
Chapter 12 – Rights of refugees and asylum seekers
Chapter 13 – Rights of the child
Chapter 14 – Freedom of Religion
Chapter 15 – Situation and rights of persons with disabilities