U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Estonia

Estonia (Tier 2)

Estonia is primarily a source and transit country for a small number of women and children trafficked internally and abroad – to surrounding Nordic and EU countries for the purpose of sexual exploitation. New information shows that Estonian victims include both ethnic Estonians and those that are Russian-speaking natives from the country's northeast. Victims transiting through Estonia are mainly from neighboring countries, such as Russia and Latvia.

The Government of Estonia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The deputy under secretaries of four principal ministries met regularly during the reporting period to coordinate Estonia's efforts to combat trafficking in persons. In 2004, police raided and closed 28 of an estimated 45 brothels in Estonia. Still, the number of trafficking victims assisted remained low, as did the sentences imposed on convicted traffickers.


Estonia's enforcement record improved over the reporting period, from no convictions in 2003 to nine trafficking-related convictions during the reporting period. While this is a significant improvement, only two of the nine convicted are currently serving time in prison. Trafficking in persons is prohibited in Estonia under related criminal articles on enslavement and abduction with maximum penalties of 12 years' imprisonment. In February 2005, the Government of Estonia prosecuted its first anti-trafficking case under the enslavement statute, convicting four traffickers and sentencing two of those to four years' imprisonment each and two to sentences of only two years and four months of probation. The courts convicted five remaining persons involved in the case under other statutes such as forcing minors into prostitution and pimping, and sentenced them to conditional probation. Estonian law enforcement investigated an additional ten trafficking-related cases during the reporting period. The Estonian Government incorporated trafficking-specific training at the Police Academy, the Border Guard School, and the Public Service Academy in 2004. Law enforcement officials attended prevention, recognition, and prosecution training events, at which some trained social workers and police to work together.


During the reporting period, the Estonian Government continued to increase its funding of crime victim assistance programs that apply to trafficking victims. Each Estonian county has been assigned a Victim Assistant who is able to provide trafficking and other victims access to the public assistance system. Victim Assistants are paired with police and provided space in police prefectures to better assist victims. During the reporting period, one trafficking victim received shelter and three received counseling. Law enforcement officials did not provide clear information on how they deal with foreign trafficking victims, particularly from Russia. In accordance with a Baltic States agreement on witness protection, Estonia provided witness protection to a trafficking victim of a neighboring country in 2004. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized consular officer training in April 2004 specifically tailored to teach consuls how to assist trafficking victims.


In its efforts to raise public awareness about trafficking in persons, the Estonian Government in spring 2004 sponsored two essay competitions for young people to write on the issues of prostitution and trafficking. The Ministry of Social Affairs and the Nordic Council of Ministers initiated in May 2004 a public awareness project called, "Drugs, Prostitution, and Trafficking from a Gender Perspective," which demonstrated the correlation of these issues. The government completed its first draft of a national action plan against trafficking in December 2004. In January 2005, the government appointed the Ministry of Justice to lead and coordinate Estonia's anti-trafficking efforts. Estonia's National Roundtable on Trafficking continued to meet, though it was supplanted to some extent by a high-level interagency group comprised of the Ministries of Justice, Interior, Foreign Affairs, and Social Affairs that met on several occasions at the deputy under secretary level.


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