In legislation during 2007, no progress took place in respect to guaranteeing the rights of the child. The preparation of a new draft of the Child Protection Act was started in 2005, the primary objective of which was to make law applicable by specialists, children and parents. By 2007, no progress had been made in the proceeding of the draft, and the last public information about the status of the preparation of the draft date from 2005. Moreover, no changes have been made to the provisions of §68 of the Child Protection Act[1], pursuant to which the details of this law are regulated by the government. The 2007 implementation plan for the Strategy for Guaranteeing the Rights of the Child cannot form the basis for legal protection since it is plan of action.[2]

In 2007, the topic of school violence became the centre of public attention. The youth film Klass and the public debate based thereon dealt with several sub-topics related to schoolchildren: school violence, students’ relations with parents and teacher, punishment and revenge. The practices of the Human Rights Institute have shown that, in connection with school violence, the protection of the rights of children has been raised in schools, along with the protection of the rights of teachers.

School administrations have discussed the case of the school shooting that took place at the Jokela School in Finland, and the majority think that the occurrence of similar serious events in Estonia cannot be totally excluded and some found that the reason may have been school persecution. According to the school leaders, the entire society must deal with the topic of safe schools, because according to the Constitution and international human rights conventions, every child has the right to life and education.

The problems of human trafficking, about which several international organisations have expressed their concern, are closely related to the rights of the child.[3] The Ministry of Justice has compiled a development plan for combating human trafficking that also includes specific steps regarding trafficking with children. Co-operation was planned with various international programmes as well as the organisation of promotional events for the public and specialists. According to the report on the fulfilment of the development plan, the tasks planned for 2007 based on the development plan have been fulfilled:

“The development plan can be considered successful, since the network for combating human trafficking and co-operation with various organisations are operating ever more smoothly, which guarantees the better processing of human trafficking cases and the assistance for victims. Ever more specialists in different areas of activity have been trained, which has helped to raise awareness in the field of human trafficking.”

The Ministry of Justice considers one of the most important developments in 2007 to be the amendment to the Penal Code, whereby the composition of enslavement stipulated in §133 was supplemented to include the exploitation of a person in an unprotected situation.[4] Also important was an amendment to the Aliens Act that added a separate chapter, pursuant to which it is possible to issue temporary residence permits to possible victims of human trafficking.[5] Estonian legislation still lacks the concept of human trafficking and the nature and content of human trafficking abased on international understanding has not been interpreted.

The practices of the Human Rights Institute have demonstrated that the collateral protocols of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child regarding the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography have not been sufficiently introduced or taken into account in various development and action plans and studies in Estonia.

The topic of children’s rights is also dealt with in the Development Plan for Reducing Crimes by Minors for 2007-2009. The 2007 report on its fulfilment provides a general assessment of the plans specified in the Development Plan for 2007.[6] According to the report, in 2007, there were “2,111 minors suspected of crimes and 2,867 crimes committed by minors were registered, the most often of which were theft and breaches of public order.” At the same time, the trend that started in previous years of a reduced number of crimes being committed by juveniles continued. The crime prevention work that is carried out in co-operation between the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Police and several non-profit associations plays an important role in the reduction of criminal activities by juveniles. According to the report, the juvenile committees “discussed 4,169 violations of the law by minors in 2007, [of which the majority] were related to various offences (78%) and the remainder were related to the non-fulfilment of compulsory school attendance.” According to the report, there were no significant changes or developments related to private schools. In connection with the agreement between the Minister of Justice and the Minister of the Interior to monitor the duration of the pre-trial proceedings involving minors, the average duration of proceedings achieved in 2007 was 3.8 months.

[1] Child Protection Act, RT 1992, 28,370.

[2] Ministry of Social Affairs, 2007 Implementation Plan for the Strategy to Guarantee the Rights of the Child, available at on the Internet atÕS_2007tegevuskava/$file/ LÕS_2007tegevuskava.rtf (last visited on 22 September 2008).

[3] See, for example, the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture.

[4] Penal Code, RT I 2001, 61, 364.

[5] Aliens Act, RT I 1993, 44, 637.

[6] Ibid.