Together Against Trafficking in Human Beings




In international assessments, Estonia is considered a source, transit and destination country for trafficking in human beings (U.S. TIP report, UN, European Commission, etc.). Organised crime, incl. trafficking in human beings is a priority in combating crime; it is included in both the criminal policy development directions until 2018 adopted by the parliament and the national priorities in combating crime.

Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings entered into force regards Estonia in 1.06.2015 and at the moment the first evaluation round by GRETA is in process for Estonia, first evaluation visit took place in May 2017.

Overall the numbers of crimes of THB have been during the last 10 years quite stable, but there are some small changes in statistics on yearly basis.

Crimes of THB, incl crimes related to THB are as follows:

Penal Code § 133. Trafficking in human beings (inimkaubandus)

Penal Code § 133¹. Support to human trafficking (inimkaubanduse toetamine)

Penal Code § 133². Pimping (kupeldamine)

Penal Code § 133³. Aiding prostitution (prostitutsioonile kaasaaitamine)

Penal Code § 175. Human trafficking in order to take advantage of minors (inimkaubandus alaealiste ärakasutamise eesmärgil)



Under Estonian law, THB is defined in § 133 of the Penal Code as follows:

§ 133. Trafficking in human beings

(1) Placing a person in a situation where he or she is forced to work under unusual conditions, engage in prostitution, beg, commit a criminal offence or perform other disagreeable duties, or keeping a person in such situation, if such act is performed through deprivation of liberty, violence, deceit, threatening to cause damage, by taking advantage of dependence on another person, helpless or vulnerable situation of the person, is punishable by one to seven years’ imprisonment.

(2) The same act if:

  • 1) committed against two or more persons;
  • 2) committed against a person of less than eighteen years of age;
  • 3) committed against a person in a helpless situation;
  • 4) committed in a torturous or cruel manner;
  • 5) serious health damage is caused thereby;
  • 6) danger to life is caused thereby;
  • 7) committed by a group;
  • 8) committed by taking advantage of official position,
  • 9) serious consequences are caused thereby;
  • 10) committed by a person who has previously committed a criminal offence provided for in this section or §§ 1331, 1332, 1333 or 175;
  • is punishable by three to fifteen years’ imprisonment.

(3) An act provided for in subsection (1) or (2) of this section, if committed by a legal person, is punishable by a pecuniary punishment.

(4) For the criminal offence provided for in this section, the court may impose extended confiscation of assets or property acquired by the criminal offence pursuant to the provisions of § 832 of this Code.

(5) For the purposes of this section, vulnerable situation is a situation where a person lacks an actual or acceptable opportunity not to commit any of the acts specified in subsection (1) of this section.


Victim support is organised on the state level by the Social Insurance Board and regulated in the Victim Support Act. Definition of a victim of THB (both presumed and identified) is stated in the Victim Support Act as follows:

(11) For the purposes of this Act, a victim of trafficking in human beings is a person in the case of whom criminal proceedings have been initiated with regard to the criminal offence committed against him or her based on the elements of criminal offence provided for in §§ 133 to 1333, 138 to 140 or 175 of the Penal Code or based on the elements of criminal offence provided for in any other similar foreign penal code.

(12) For the purposes of this Act, an alleged/presumed victim of trafficking in human beings is a person:

1) who has been preliminarily identified in Estonia by an organisation engaged in helping of victims of trafficking in human beings and filed information with the Estonian National Social Insurance Board about a suspicion that the person may be a victim of trafficking in human beings; or

2) in respect of whom a competent foreign authority has submitted information to the Estonian National Social Insurance Board about falling victim of trafficking in human beings in that state.

Services under the VSA are coordinated through Social Insurance Board (SIB) which is state authority organizing support for families, children, also special services are meant for the victims of THB, sexually abused children, also for the victims of domestic violence. Support services for victims of THB are regulated in the Victim Support Act, see more:

SIB also organizes public procurement for the service providers and at the moment they are for THB matters: for juveniles SOS Children Village, for adult NGO Eluliin and in addition to that hotline operated by the NGO Living For Tomorrow is financed by the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Nationally over the last three years (2014-2016) there are not many of the changes made in legislation, but some of the changes of the Victim Support Act (since 2017) should be highlighted. Updates of the Victim Support Act has been approved by the Parliament on 4.11.2016 and are in force since 1.01.2017. Changes are related with the trafficking victims’ identification, incl. giving time for recovery period up to 60 days for the presumed victims starting from the first contacts with the state organizations or NGOs aiming to establish stronger investigations and also offering assistance needed before the investigation. Also, by the changes the proposal is, that next to LEAs NGOs will become the rights to identify the victims.

Another, also quite recent change (since 2017) is change of the Penal Code in the purpose to criminalize the purchase of services from the victim of THB, more in depth this is also described later in text.


There are no special anti-trafficking units are in place in investigating agencies, but in the police and prosecutor’s offices there are specialists working who have one of the main responsibilities to deal with the issues and cases of human trafficking. For example, it has been agreed, that in Northern Prosecutor Office there is one specialized prosecutor working with the THB cases. Normally the investigators who investigate THB cases are working also with the other organized crime cases in the regional level of police and prosecutors offices and on the central level. We have in Estonia 4 regional (North, South, East and West) Police and Border Guard Board, the same number of Prosecution Offices and in addition to these offices one central body on the state level.


Most of the anti-trafficking actions, incl prevention and trainings are organized by the governmental bodies and partners and are described in the Strategy for Preventing Violence and its national action plan for the years 2016-2020:

As one of the examples from the latest campaign is 1ELU (1LIFE) which took place in 2017 nationally in biggest towns of Estonia and also in national online media and focused to prevent THB, turning attention for the possibilities of getting help and advice. The message of the campaign was - everybody has one life, which can be lived decently, with honour and without exploitation. Campaign was supported from European Commission Internal Safety Fund (ISF) with national co-financing 85000 EUR and Estonian Ministry of Internal Affairs and organized through the project run by Ministry of Justice and Social Affairs with the partnership of NGO Living For Tomorrow and Estonian Human Rights Centre. Visuals and campaign is worked out by the IDEA PR Agency. The need for this kind of campaign rose from the public opinion survey carried out in 2014, which also inquired the awareness of the victim support services and around 20% of the respondents said that they know which services are available for the victims of labour or sexual exploitation. There are online and social media activities in the campaign, also commercials in the shopping centres in the biggest towns in Estonia, commercials in Apollo cinemas in front of the movies, also informative videos shown on the screens in the Tallinn bus station, airport and ports in Tallinn, on Tallink ferries, also in e-school program for juveniles and parents, etc.

The campaign had three parts:

  • First was dedicated to the labour exploitation and this was done with using videos (8 different ones in 2 languages) in commercial clips in shopping centres, in bus station, in the ports and airport and on Tallink ferries and the videos were shown in Apollo cinemas during 1 month before all the films.
  • Second round was dedicated to the sexual exploitation focusing to the sex byers, also to prostitutes offering sex. This campaign was presented in the bigger daily online news web portals, also job recruitment and special portal using web banners.
  • Third, was done for children used for criminal acts and was presented through study video, which was sent for teachers who can use it in schools. The announcement was done also in e-school portal, which is used by the parents, teachers, also students.
  • Campaign didn´t have much printed materials, but there were business cards with the information of the victim support services and special design was done for the public transport of Tallinn. There were handles in the buses for some weeks.
  • Special FB page was established ( and videos can be found in YouTube as follows:


Estonia has a national policy and a strategic development plan of the Government of the Republic for combating trafficking in human beings since 2006. There are three national/governmental level strategies worked out, which are confirmed by the government. The third strategy is in implementation now, for the years 2015-2010. The Strategy for Preventing Violence in 2015–2020 encompasses violence between children, abuse of children, domestic violence (intimate partner violence), sexual violence and trafficking in human beings. The Strategy for Preventing Violence discusses violence prevention in its wider meaning, at three prevention levels encompassing universal prevention, victim protection and work with consequences of violence. First, the Strategy addresses awareness raising and educating of the public; second, the Strategy focuses on people at risk of becoming a victim or committing an offence; and third, the Strategy is used for working with consequences of violence, offering support measures to victims as well as interventions concerning perpetrators of violence. The solutions proposed in the Strategy are guided by the World Health Organisation’s understanding that risk factors for violence are related to the society (e.g. norms favouring violence, gender inequality), the community (e.g. lacking victim support services), relationships (e.g. domestic conflicts, poor parenting skills) and persons (e.g. history of abuse as a child, psychological and behavioural problems, addiction problems).



Main cooperation projects are done recently with the European Commission, with Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and also under the Norwegian grants programme.

Some examples as follows:

1) In 2012-2016 the Ministry of Social Affairs was co-ordinating an implementation of the programme concerning violence against women funded from the Norwegian Financial Mechanism, which dedicated some parts of the programme for THB issues. More information in Estonian is here:

2) STROM I-II projects are transnational projects that aimed to strengthen the capacity and role of municipalities in the chain of assistance to victims of human trafficking in the Baltic Sea Region. Projects are funded by the CBSS Project Support Facility (PSF), the Swedish Institute and the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Latvia. More information here:

3) European Commission from ISF programme funded the prevention campaign 1LIFE, which is described more in depth in one of the earlier paragraphs.

4) HESTIA project “Preventing human trafficking and sham marriages: A multidisciplinary solution" from the years of 2015-2016, co-funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Union. More information from here:


There are number of the studies done in recent years either in Estonia or within the international cooperation projects as follows:

1. HEUNI report series 83. Addressing Human Trafficking in the Baltic Sea: Nordic-Baltic Partnership with Passenger Ferry Companies to Counter Trafficking in Human Beings, Smuggling of Migrants and Exploitation of Migrant Workers in the Baltic Sea Region:

2. HEUNI report series 82. Exploitative Sham Marriages: Exploring the Links between Human Trafficking and Sham Marriages in Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia:

3. HEUNI report series 87: The costs of assisting victims of trafficking in human beings: a pilot study of services provided in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania:

4. Studies of public awareness (labour exploitation and prostitution)

1) In 2014[1] and in 2016[2], TNS EMOR studied the population’s awareness of trafficking, in the first report more detailed look at the labour exploitation; the population study asked residents to assess several situations hinting at exploitation and trafficking in human beings and also about victimization.

2) TNS EMOR also studied the awareness of THB from youngsters[3], from the 10-12th grade students.




Hotline (+3726607320) is state financed, through the public procurement. NGO Living For Tomorrow (LFT) has been providing the service of counselling hotline concerning trafficking in human beings since 2004, and in the recent years there is more need to deal with the concrete suspicions of THB or with counselling cases, not giving advice over the phone. Also, last four years the statistics are gathered about the visits to the THB themes section on the webpage of LFT and this shows an increase of the visits.

Counselling hotline statistics by years, in 2005-2017, the purple line is the contacts made through the website. More information about the hotline can be found in here:


The Criminal Policy Department at the Ministry of Justice hold the post of the National Coordinator on Trafficking in Human Beings in Estonia, which is a part time work for one of the advisers in Analysis Division. The National Coordinator is Estonia’s equivalent mechanism to the National Rapporteur and has the role to coordinate the implementation of anti-trafficking policies, incl. organization of the meetings of the stakeholders at all levels, analysing crime statistics, comprehensive data collecting and reporting to the agencies asking information about Estonian situation of THB. The National Coordinator is responsible for setting the agenda for the meetings of the National Coordination network, which monitors the implementation of the National Strategy and its Action Plan (NAP). The National Coordinator gathers information on the status of implementation of the measures foreseen by the NAP and collects input and suggestions from different stakeholders for the yearly report on NAP implementation for the government.

National Coordinator also organizes different prevention activities, also is engaged in the trainings organized by other authorities, incl other ministries. Training activities are done either on the local, regional or state level.

National Coordinator represents Estonia in the European Commission’s work group of national co-ordinators and independent rapporteurs, in the Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings under the Council of the Baltic Sea States, is the contact person for Council of Europe and coordinates any other internal or international cooperation on the field of THB in case the need arises.



NGO Living for Tomorrow runs the hotline.

Social services for the victims are offered:

1) For adults the shelter and other services are offered by the NGO Eluliin (Lifeline)

2) For children by the SOS Children Village.


[1] 2014 report:

[2] 2016 report:

[3] Youngsters study: .