Estonia (Tier 2)
Estonia is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Estonian women and girls are trafficked to Finland, Sweden, Norway, and, to a lesser extent, other EU countries. Women from Russia, Latvia, and Ukraine are trafficked through Estonia to Nordic countries and some victims are believed to be transited to China. Women from Russia, Latvia, and Ukraine are also trafficked to Estonia primarily for sexual exploitation.
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 government showed clear political will during the reporting period to improve anti-trafficking efforts. In January 2006, the government adopted a National Action Plan to fight trafficking; the plan defines each ministry's responsibilities and allocates $13,000 to be spent on government and NGO anti-trafficking efforts in 2006. The plan also created a national database that will provide reliable statistics and assist the government to more efficiently assess the trafficking problem in Estonia. In compliance with EU legislation, the government is expected to amend its law to no longer treat trafficking victims who are in Estonia illegally as immigrant cases and will provide temporary residence permits to such victims. The government should expand its public awareness campaigns to address demand; these campaigns should be targeted at foreign tourists.
While Estonia does not have any trafficking-specific laws, the criminal code prohibits enslavement, abduction, pimping, and offering or engaging minors for prostitution and sexual acts. The penalties for such acts range from five to 12 years' imprisonment. Estonia has successfully employed these statutes to prosecute traffickers. However, in a 2005 report IOM noted that courts find it relatively difficult to convict solely on the basis of enslavement because of the difficulty in proving that the victim had no opportunity to flee from the conditions of sexual exploitation or seek assistance from law enforcement agencies. Estonia increased its total number of trafficking convictions from nine in 2004 to 22 in 2005. The government used the anti-enslavement statute in two cases and successfully convicted seven traffickers. Five criminal cases for child prostitution were initiated, resulting in the conviction and sentencing of 15 traffickers with sentences ranging from three months to two years and three months. Estonia cooperates with neighboring countries, the United States, EUROPOL, and INTERPOL in trafficking investigations and prosecutions. In January 2006, the Ministry of Justice developed a registry of criminal procedures that provides an overview of all crimes related to trafficking; this will serve to aggregate and analyze trafficking-related cases and may aid authorities in improving their fight against trafficking.
The Government of Estonia continued to make progress in assisting and protecting trafficking victims. Victims are offered medical, psychological, legal, police, and social assistance. The Ministry of Social Affairs worked closely with local authorities and NGOs to provide victim assistance services. In 2005, the Ministry trained 35 victim assistance volunteers that operate in 16 towns across Estonia; they are paired with police and given workspace within police stations to facilitate victim identification and assistance. There are no trafficking-specific shelters, but there are three shelters for domestic violence victims that provide assistance to both adult and child trafficking victims. The government continued to work closely with NGOs that provide victim assistance and protection and provided some funding to IOM for the production of a victim assistance manual distributed to social workers.
The government was active in raising trafficking awareness among government officials and institutions; during the reporting period, trafficking curricula were introduced at the Police Academy, Border Guard School, and Public Service Academy. Two law enforcement training activities were conducted. The government also held some training sessions in cooperation with NGOs for teachers, social workers, school psychologists, victim support specialists, counselors, and police. In 2005, five training sessions were held for soldiers serving in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq to enable them to better understand, recognize, and address trafficking while deployed abroad.