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Estonia

  • 1. GENERAL INFORMATION

    Estonia has been active in anti-trafficking efforts since 2005. Despite the lack of specific legislation, a National Action Plan has been adopted for the period 2006-2009, a national coordinator has been appointed in the Ministry of Justice, and an inter-agency coordination network for human trafficking issues was established in 2006. A second Action Plan was adopted by the Government in April 2010, and deals with preventing and combating violent crimes.

    On 28 August 2005, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of the Interior of Estonia signed the Laulasmaa declaration. It was agreed in the declaration that the fight against crime related to trafficking in human beings will become a common priority of the Prosecutor's Office and the police forces.

    Estonia is mainly a source country for the trafficking of women to Norway, the United Kingdom and Finland for prostitution. Estonian men are trafficked within the country for forced labour and forced criminal acts, and to Ukraine for forced labour in the construction industry.

    The 2009 US State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report acknowledges the effort and progress Estonia has made in combating trafficking, and that it has demonstrated good coordination with regional counterparts on victim identification and repatriation. Steps have also been taken to improve victim assistance by approving a new victim identification model in January 2009.

    • The national developmental plan for reducing violent crimes, including trafficking of human beings has been approved by the government in April 2010
    • Recently the research regards the situation of labour trafficking is done. You may find the report here.
    • NGO-s, who offer victim support services to the victims of trafficking, identified 57 victims in 2010. 643 people were given advice from THB special helpline on how to work and/or study safely abroad, and how to avoid trafficking.

    ADSTRINGO project got funds from European Commission Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme. This project is addressing trafficking in human beings for labour exploitation through improved partnerships, enhanced diagnostics and intensified organizational approaches in 9 countries in the Baltic Sea region, incl. Estonia. First roundtable for discussing the theme with labour organizations in cooperation with Ministry of Justice, University of Tartu, and NGO Living for Tomorrow will take place on 30.10.2012. This is the first roundtable this kind to this target group.

    2011 crime statistics yearbook is available in Estonian online. Analysis of the related crimes to trafficking in Estonian is on the pages 72-76, English summary of the yearbook is on the pages 154-173.

    NGO-s, who offer victim support services to the victims of trafficking, identified 56 victims in 2011. Around 700 people were given advice from THB special helpline on how to work and/or study safely abroad, and how to avoid trafficking.

    In 2012 guidelines were worked out for the specialists who carry out trainings on the theme of trafficking.

    Guidelines of the referral and aiding victims are in the process of reviewing and updating. As since 14.04.2012 THB is criminalized, then we have to work out new procedural guidelines for the different related organizations.

    In 2012 the reporting of THB activities to the government under the violence reduction program is ongoing. Final report should be ready and sent to the government late March/early April 2013.

    The NGO-s, who offer victim support services to the victims of trafficking, identified 22 victims in 2012. Thorough analysis of the data of victim support services will be done in April 2013. Around 700 people were given advice from THB special helpline on how to work and/or study safely abroad, and how to avoid trafficking. There have been 32 crimes of trafficking in 2012 and one case was identified through consular services.

    The Guidelines of the referral and aiding victims are in the process of reviewing and updating, first discussion should take place in the first half of 2013. As since 14.04.2012 THB is criminalized, then we have to work out new procedural guidelines for the different related organizations. 

    A summary of this text is available in the official language of the country.

    Attachments

  • 2. INSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK

    Legislation

    Although the crime of trafficking in human beings is not currently included in the Estonian Penal Code, a number of other articles in the Code are applied to prosecute the crime. These articles include enslavement, deprivation of liberty, aiding prostitution, illegal organ donation, and manufacture of works involving child pornography or making child pornography available. The penalties prescribed for such acts range from five to 15 years imprisonment, which are commensurate with penalties prescribed for other grave crimes, such as sexual assault.

    A process of legislative revision is being carried out and a Draft Act containing amendments to the Penal Code is currently being prepared in the Ministry of Justice and will be sent to the Government in the autumn of 2010. Within this, a specific article addressing human trafficking will be included in the Estonian Penal Code).

    Estonia has transposed principles of the Council Directive 2004/81/EC (on the residence permit issued to third country nationals who are victims of trafficking of human beings or who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration) into its national legislation. An amendment to the Aliens Act was introduced in February 2007. It provides for an unconditional reflection period of 30-60 days and for the issuance of temporary residence permits to victims of trafficking who agree to cooperate in criminal proceedings. The duration of the temporary residence permit is one year.

    Estonia signed the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings on 3rd April 2010.

    National Strategy/National Action Plan

    The Estonian government approved its first National Action Plan in 2006, for the period 2006-2009. The Action Plan was amended in 2008. This Action Plan concentrated on the establishment of a coordination network between the organizations active in fighting trafficking in human beings, and on the promotion of multi-agency cooperation. It also promoted capacity building for specialists and continuous mapping of the problems related to human trafficking.

    Multi-stakeholder guidelines for the identification of and assistance to victims of trafficking have been recently developed by a group of experts at the initiative of the Ministry of Social Affairs. The guidelines contain instructions about how to identify and assist presumed victims of trafficking, distinguishing between victims identified in Estonia or abroad. The tool includes indicators for different forms of exploitation, instructions about referral practices specifying different options and entry points (who should contact whom depending on the circumstance of identification), rules for ethical interviewing and a model interview structure of reference and contact details for assistance service providers and anti-trafficking actors in Estonia. The guidelines have been developed with a multi-agency input and are intended for specialists in order to improve the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts against criminal offences related to human trafficking. They also address issues regarding assistance to and rehabilitation of victims.

    In April 2010 a new National Action Plan which deals with preventing and combating violent crimes, including the trafficking of human beings, was adopted. This plan carries several activities started under the previous plan. More attention is turned to labour exploitation issues and mapping out the Estonian situation, as well as activating the cooperation with labour organisations. The development of rehabilitation schemes and investigation systems are two of the essential issues covered in plan. Attention is for example also given to referral and assistance guidance material for child victims of trafficking and for unaccompanied children. There are special activities for working out the rules of procedure/memorandum of understandings for referral and assistance of victims of human trafficking in multiagency cooperation. The implementation of the new action plan is coordinated by the Ministry of Justice.

    Coordination of anti-trafficking actions at a national level

    A National Coordinator was appointed in Estonia in 2006. The post is held by a senior adviser at the Ministry of Justice. The National Coordinator (NC) is responsible for producing data and analysis, such as criminal statistics on crimes related to human trafficking. The NC also gathers information on the progress of the implementation of the national action plan, and collects input from different stakeholders, all of which is collated into an annual report. The NC is generally responsible for coordinating work in the anti-human trafficking field.

    National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanisms

    The National Coordinator is Estonia's equivalent mechanism to the National Rapporteur.

  • 3. IMPLEMENTATION OF ANTI-TRAFFICKING POLICY

    Prevention

    Estonia’s preventive measures to combat human trafficking have mainly focused on the training of social workers, child protection specialists, police officers and personnel from NGOs offering assistance to victims, and on enabling all officials to recognise cases of human trafficking. For example, as a result of the National Action Plan (2006-2009) there have been 100 awareness seminars/lectures and 12 special training sessions.

    There have been no awareness campaigns targeting the general public.

    Assistance and support provided to victims

    When the National Action Plan was approved in 2006 there were no specialised State services for trafficking victims. However, since then the budget allocations for anti-trafficking activities have increased. The majority of the funds available have been allocated to victim assistance and trafficking prevention programs.

    There are currently two shelters for victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. Victims can also be placed in other women’s shelters belonging to the Estonian Women’s Shelters Union. During 2009, the shelters provided assistance to 78 victims of trafficking.

    There is a special helpline for issues related to human trafficking. In 2009, approximately 640 people were given advice from this helpline on how to work and/or study safely abroad, and how to avoid trafficking. Although it is not exclusively used for human trafficking cases, operators report increasing numbers of presumed trafficking cases relating to both sexual and labour exploitation, involving men, women and minors.

    Residence permits

    An amendment to the Aliens Act was introduced in February 2007. It provides for an unconditional reflection period of 30-60 days and for the issuance of temporary residence permits to victims of trafficking who agree to cooperate in criminal proceedings. The duration of the temporary residence permit is one year.

    The US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report mentions that no foreign victims of human trafficking applied in 2009 for a temporary residence permit.

    Special protective measures for children

    A number of special measures may be used under the Code for Criminal Procedure. These include:

    • Protection of identity of victims/witnesses
    • Closed hearings
    • Use of equipment (e.g. video) to prevent contact with the defendants
    • Phone hearing (allowed with consent of the defendants only)

    Furthermore, since 2008 the possibility of anonymous witnessing has been introduced.

    Proposals for amendments of the criminal procedure code have been prepared. The proposals introduce the possibility of using pre-trial hearings in court proceedings to avoid the risk of re-victimisation of minors.

    In the new National Action Plan, which deals with preventing and combating violent crimes, there is particular focus on the referral of and guidance material for child victims of trafficking and unaccompanied children.

    Investigation and prosecution

    Within the police forces, the Unit for Serious Crimes and Crimes against Persons within the Northern Police Prefecture has competence for cases related to human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Competence for labour cases is not clearly mandated at the moment.

    Number of investigations and prosecutions

    According to the 2010 United States State Department Trafficking in Persons Report, the Estonian authorities conducted 73 trafficking investigations under Articles 133, 175, and 176 in 2009. Furthermore, Estonian authorities prosecuted 18 individuals and convicted three trafficking offenders the same year. One offender was sentenced to 53 months’ imprisonment in 2009, and two convicted trafficking offenders were not sentenced to time in prison.

    Latest initiatives/activities related to anti-trafficking policy

    Ministry of Social Affairs applied for additional funds from EEA Grants. Application was successful and since 2013 until 2015 there will be different activities implemented through the program preventing and tackling gender-based violence, which will be directed by the Ministry of Social Affairs of Estonia and implemented in co-operation with Norwegian Directorate for Health. The total cost of the programme is 2 million euros.

    Outcomes of the programme are: gender-based violence reduced and victims of human trafficking supported.

    For achieving mentioned outcomes there will be three pre-defined projects implemented:

    1. Developing services for victims of domestic violence, strengthening co-operation between different institutions and raising awareness among victims and certain groups of specialists (will be implemented by the NGO Estonian Women´s Shelters  Union);
    2. Supporting victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation through improving the services provided to them (will be implemented by NGO Eluliin).
    3. Preventing labour trafficking and supporting its victims through developing further anti-trafficking hotline services provided by the NGO Living for Tomorrow.

    These pre-defined projects were selected because these organizations have very specific activities and target groups in Estonia, and have proved over the years their competence in dealing with these issues. At the same time, namely these services should be developed further and widened to achieve better results in preventing gender-based violence and supporting violence victims. All the pre-defined projects will be implemented in the close cooperation with the organizations and experts in Norway dealing with the same issues. The approximate budget for pre-defined projects is 1 473 000 million euros.

    Also, two open calls will be issued to find projects, which will raise awareness in the society regarding gender based violence and human trafficking and will develop some new services for victims. One open call will concentrate on gender-based violence and other on trafficking in human beings.

    Projects selected through the open calls should target:

    • researching the spread and nature of gender-based violence and trafficking in human beings in Estonia;
    • raising the general awareness (including awareness about services available) and change the attitudes in society regarding gender based violence and trafficking of human beings;
    • develop new services for victims of sexual violence (new topic in Estonia);
    • trainings for specialists target groups not receiving training via  pre-defined projects.

    In addition one small grant scheme (SGS) will be implemented targeted to NGOs. Projects should be meant especially preventing young people being the victims of gender based violence and trafficking, also there will be supported through SGS different activities targeting perpetrators of violence.

    There will be also ex-ante and ex-post surveys carried measuring the attitudes and change in the attitudes in the general population towards gender based violence and trafficking in human beings. 

    National Referral Mechanism

    Estonia doesn´t have national referral mechanism, but there are in use guidelines for the referral and helping victims in the authorities working with THB cases. There is a plan to update the guidelines and as well to define the procedural rules for referral in 2012. The collection and analysis of THB data is done through different ministries (primarily Ministry of Justice and Social Affairs) and the information is collected for the developmental plan report once a year by the Ministry of Justice, who is also national rapporteur of THB to EU Commission.

  • 4. EU AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

    In Estonia, international cooperation has included participation in projects with other Baltic and the Nordic countries. Between 2005 and 2008, Estonia participated in a regional initiative; the Nordic-Baltic Pilot project for the support, protection, safe return, and rehabilitation of women victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. The project aimed to help build a network to facilitate regional referral for women victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

    Estonia is a member of the Council of the Baltic Sea States Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings and the Working Group on Children at Risk in the Baltic Sea Region. Estonia has also appointed a National Contact Point for Unaccompanied and Trafficked Children.

    Future plans in terms of implementation of the directive 2011/36/EU

    Taking over the directive is ongoing. Analysis was done in the first half of 2012 and now related ministries are working with updating and changing the legislation. Full package of possible legislative changes should be sent to Government in November.

    Taking over the directive is ongoing. Full package of legislative changes to the different laws is at the moment in Parliament. Hopefully legislation changes are confirmed by the Parliament by 6.04.2013. 

  • 5. RESOURCES

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