Merle Albrant, Anni Säär

Human trafficking can be considered the modern slavery and even in 2012 there are persons who are being treated as a commodity to be bought, sold and used at will.[1] The victims of human trafficking can be women and men, adults and minors. Human trafficking constitutes a severe breach of personal liberty and dignity and is a serious crime.

As human trafficking is also a problem in Estonia, progress was made in combating it in 2012 and more attention was paid to assisting the victims.

Political and institutional developments

On April 19th, 2012 the government approved the renewed implementation plan for years 2012-2014[2] of the “Development plan for reducing violence for 2010-2014”, which set out activities related also to increasing the efficiency of fight against human trafficking.[3]

In the course of facilitating international cooperation in security the efficiency of maintenance of law and order activity in combating cross-border crime is increased, a better cooperation with the police, customs and border guard of our close neighbours in fight against drugs and human trafficking is secured. In order to better guarantee the safety of the victims the widening of the support network of victim support right across Estonia is the goal.

Legislative developments

2012 was an important year for Estonia in increasing the efficiency of the fight against human trafficking as a great change in national legislation took place – a separate definition and necessary elements of an offence of human trafficking were introduced into the Penal Code. Previously there had been one paragraph in the Penal Code (§ 133), which handled enslaving – an act performed through violence or deceit placing a human being in a situation where he or she is forced to work or perform other duties against his or her will for the benefit of another person, or keeping a person in such situation. On April 14th, 2012 an act amending the Penal Code came into force, which introduced new elements of an offence to do with supporting human trafficking, pimping, aiding prostitution and human trafficking for the purpose of abusing a minor.

The new provision on human trafficking does not differentiate whether the victim of human trafficking has been forced to be in prostitution, building or some other area. However, there is a difference when abusing minors for human trafficking – in order for the liability to arise deceit or an act of violence does not need to be proved. It is also worth noting that taking advantage of a person in a helpless situation does result in application of a more severe category of punishment.[4]

The amendment of the Penal Code that came into force in 2012 should provide clearer and better assistance in protecting the rights of the victims. Now the Estonian legislation is more in concordance with the European Union legislation on human trafficking. The previous legislation ignored the needs and rights of the victims, and the traffickers got away with short spells in prisons or a pecuniary punishment. The critics are still of the opinion that the current amendment doesn’t go far enough and doubt whether the interests of the victims of human trafficking were taken into account enough in the  implementation of the amendment.[5]

Estonia has expressed its will to bring several acts of legislation in accordance with the Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims. In December of 2012 the draft act for amending the victim support act and other connecting acts was drawn up. According to the draft act the aforementioned directive as well as partly the directive combating sexual abuse of children would be adopted. The amendments significantly improve the situation of victims of human trafficking and the abused children as they specifically state which services they will be provided. These services are: accommodation, alimentation, guaranteeing access to health services and medicinal products, providing material support, psychological counselling, translation and other services necessary for physical and psycho-social recuperation of victims.

8 February 2013 the Minister of Justice presented this draft act to the government, and the government initiated drafting of the act amending the victim support act and other affected acts, which was discussed at the 14 February 2013 sitting.[6]

Court practices

In 2012 a survey on criminal policies of 2011 was published, which stated that three criminal cases containing acts with criminal elements of international human trafficking reached court. In one case five Estonian residents were involved with pimping in Estonia and Sweden. They used a homepage and internet advertising to find clients; they organised recruiting prostitutes, the transport and accommodation and mediating sexual services. The Swedish court found all of the members of the group guilty and imposed punishments of imprisonments (the longest one three years). The other cases that reached court that had to do with human trafficking were largely connected with Germany. Two cases of enslavement were also registered, one of them a case of work enslavement, where two persons mediated a person to be hired in Germany. The person started work in Germany, but it transpired there that the conditions did not meet what was agreed upon verbally. In another case a man took advantage of the helpless condition of his partner and forced her to take part in prostitution over the course of two years. 15 cases of aiding prostitution were registered, where girls were mediated to work in a foreign country (for example in Finland and Spain), advertisements for intimate services were published in internet portals, apartments were rented for providing intimate services or rooms and means for that end were provided (usually apartments, but also a limousine).[7]

In 2011 six offences of illegal carriage across the state border of aliens were registered. Most of the aliens were carried across border from Latvia, but there were also cases of persons being carried across the Russian border.[8]

32 criminal offences connected to human trafficking based on § 133, § 133¹, § 133², § 133³, 175 and 268¹ of the Penal Code were registered in 2012. Cases of registered offences (six) based on § 133 of the Penal Code generally had to do with detaining women who engaged in prostitution, and using violence on them. In one case the victim was a minor. Registered cases (3) based on § 133¹ of the Penal Code on aiding human trafficking generally had to do with smuggling of illegal aliens captured on Estonian border. In one case a group of Vietnamese, including minors, were smuggled from the Russian Federation to other European countries. These persons had been forced to work in unusual conditions in the Russian Federation and would have been forced to do that later in other European states. This group contained minors.[9]

Several court decisions were made about human trafficking in 2012.

29 May 2012 three persons were found guilty of pimping based on the provision of human trafficking, one of them according to § 1332 subsection 2 sub indent 1 of the Penal Code, two of them according to the § 1332 subsection 1. The organiser was imposed the imprisonment of 1 year and 5 months and the other two imprisonment of 1 year and 4 months.[10] One month after adopting the amendment of the Penal Code introducing the necessary elements of an offence of human trafficking the first court judgment finding persons guilty of human trafficking was also made.

The first famous case after the amendment of the enslavement paragraph in the Penal Code came into force was the Indrek Mandre case, who was arrested on the suspicion for aiding prostitution (case number 1-12-7180).

Mandre attempted to legalise recruitment and exploitation of the victims, which is one of the trends of late in human trafficking. The persons who were trafficked and the traffickers drew up contracts which seemed official at first glance and the persons who were trafficked took on financial obligations by signing them.[11] Many women did not dare to break the contract. Mandre sent 95 women to a club called Paradise Club in a small town Remich in Luxembourg, knowing that the club was aiding prostitution. He sent five women to a club called Diamond Dolls in Greece during the years 2008-2009. The woman had to aide prostitution services upon arrival, which was not what they had agreed upon earlier.

Harju County Court found Mandre guilty with its 6 August 2012 decision and sentenced him to imprisonment of 2 years and 6 months in the course of the compromise procedure. The time spent in provisional custody was subtracted. The actual imprisonment was substituted with 1458 hours of community service. The court found OÜ BMS guilty as a legal person and imposed a pecuniary punishment of 6000 euros and ordered the profit gained with criminal activity to be paid, which was estimated to be 69 720.07 euros. In the words of the prosecutor nobody was kept by force, however, if Mandre knew the clubs were aiding intimate services then he should have stopped cooperating with the clubs.[12]

One of the cases had to do with pimping based on § 133² of the Penal Code (case number 1-12-11790, December 2012), where partners organised the meetings of the person prostituting with clients in internet portals as well as the place to provide services.

Statistics and surveys

According to the statistics published in 2012 there were 56 victims of human trafficking in 2011, with 71 episodes of human trafficking discovered, where actual abuse took place in 64 cases and where the victim managed to leave or flee before the abuse took place in 7 cases.[13] There are a lot more human trafficking cases, but they are not identified as such. The human trafficking cases were registered before the amendment to the Penal Code came into force (on 14 April 2012) either as aiding prostitution, unlawful deprivation of liberty, enslavement or illegal transportation of aliens across state border.

Even though Estonia has advanced, it still does not qualify as a Tier 1 state according to the survey published by the US Sate Department, while most developed states do. Estonia is a Tier 2 state as it has indicated limited preventative actions and does not entirely meet the minimum requirements for elimination of trafficking in humans.[14] According to the report Estonia is still a state of departure, destination and transit for victims of prostitution and forced labour.[15]

Good practices

Good practices are a good example of cooperation of Estonian law enforcement authorities with various states and of information exchange wit the Interpol, Europol and embassies in assisting the victims of human trafficking and processing cases of cross-border trafficking in humans. The most active cooperation was forged with Finland, as it is the main destination state for mediating prostitution.[16] However, cooperation was also carried out with partners from Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Norway, Cyprus and Luxembourg.[17]

Important developments in 2012 can considered to be the preventative work carried out through various awareness raising activities. In 2012 the social education textbooks were amended and additional study materials on the topic of human trafficking, as well as opportunities for helping victims were developed.[18] A training programme was also drawn up and a database of training providers was added.[19]

Nearly 500 students were informed of dangers of human trafficking in the course of the project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[20] The National Institute for Health Development organised an information day about prostitution and its dangers, where an overview was given of human trafficking, prostitution and crime that goes along with it. The NGO Living for Tomorrow organised a seminar on abuse of workforce and prevention of it and battle against it.[21] For the first time a forum was organised in the course of civil initiative on the day of fighting against human trafficking (18 October 2012) on myths of human trafficking, on business, sex and politics.[22]

Various nongovernmental organisations assist the victims of human trafficking and do preventative work. The NGO Living for Tomorrow offers a counselling hotline service (phone number 6607320).[23] The NGO Eluliin offers counselling to persons involved with prostitution as well as shelter to victims of human trafficking.

Trends in 2012

Human trafficking, its essence and assisting the victims is being discussed more often, but this topic needs to be paid even more attention. There has been talk of various forms of human trafficking and that forcing someone to go begging, to commit a crime and other duties the person does not want to do also constitute human trafficking. Also keeping a person in such situation, if such act is performed through deprivation of liberty, violence or deceit, threat of doing damage, through dependence of the other person, taking advantage of a helpless or a vulnerable situation. Unfortunately, the awareness of the essence of human trafficking is low in the society and that is why more attention should be paid to the preventative work.


  • Pay more attention to notifying the population of the essence and dangers of human trafficking as well as protection of victims on various levels of the society. Put more emphasis on raising awareness of students as a preventative measure, raising youths’ awareness of dangers and risks of human trafficking.
  • Pay attention to solving the problem of demand for human trafficking.
  • Pay compensation to victims of human trafficking.
  • Adopt the human trafficking directive in its full extent.

[1] European Court of Human Rights. 7 January 2010 judgment Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia. Application no. 25965/04. Estonian summary available at:

[2] Ministry of Justice. Rakendusplaan vägivalla vähendamise arengukava elluviimiseks aastatel 2012-2014 [Implementation plan of development plan for reducing violence for years 2012-2014]. Available at:

[3] Government of the Republic. 19.04.2012 Valitsus kiitis heaks vägivalla vähendamise arengukava [The government approved the development plan for reducing violence]. Available at:

[4] Eesti Päevaleht. „Andres Anvelt: Inimkaubanduses kurjategijate karistamisest üksi ei piisa“ [Andres Anvelt: Punishing human traffickers is not enough]. 20.03.2012. Available at:

[5] Tammik, O. ERR News. „Estonia Becomes Last in EU to Adopt Human Trafficking Law“. 21.03.2012. Available at:

[6] Ministry of Justice. Eelnõude infosüsteem [Information system of draft legislation]. Available at:

[7] Ministry of Justice. Kriminaalpoliitika uuringud 16, Kuritegevus Eestis 2011. Available at:

[8] Ministry of Justice. Kriminaalpoliitika uuringud 16, Kuritegevus Eestis 2011. Available at:

[9] Ohvrisabi seaduse muutmise ja sellega seonduvalt teiste seaduste muutmiseseaduse eelnõu seletuskiri [Explanatory memorandum to draft act amending Victim Support Act and other relevant acts]. Available at:

[10] Harju County Court Liivalaia Courthouse 29.05.2012. judgment in criminal case no. 1-12-2934.

[11] Ibrus, K. Eesti Päevaleht. „Vastutus inimkaubanduse eest lükatakse endiselt ohvrile“ [Responsibility for human trafficking is still put on the victim]. 23.02.2012. Available at:

[12] Ibrus, K. Eesti Päevaleht. „Kohus karistas Mandret prostitutsioonile kaasa aitamise eest tööga“ [The court punished Mandre for aiding prostitution with mandatory work]. 07.08.2012. Available at:

[13] Ministry of Justice. Vägivalla vähendamise arengukava aastateks 2010-2014: 2011. aasta täitmise aruanne. Available at:

[14] Teesalu, I. ERR News. „US State Department: Estonia’s Efforts Against Human Trafficking Improving, Slightly“. 20.06.2012. Available at:

[15] US State Department (2012). Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP). Pages 154-155. Available at:

[16] Ministry of Justice. Kriminaalpoliitika uuringud 16, Kuritegevus Eestis 2011. Available at:

[17] US State Department (2012). Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP). Page 155. Available at:

[18] Ministry of Justice. Rakendusplaan vägivalla vähendamise arengukava elluviimiseks aastatel 2012-2014. Available at:

[19] Ministry of Social Affairs. Inimkaubanduse teemal koolitamine: praktilised soovitused, näidisprogrammid, lektorid [Training of human trafficking: practical recommendations, sample programmes, lecturers]. Available at:

[20] US State Department (2012). Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP). Page 155. Available at:

[21] MTÜ Living for Tomorrow. Available at:

[22] Postimees. „Esmakordselt tähistatakse ka Eestis inimkaubanduse vastase võitluse päeva.“ [Estonia celebrates the day of fighting against human trafficking for the first time]. 16.10.2012. Available at:

[23] MTÜ Living for Tomorrow. Available at: