U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Estonia

Estonia (Tier 2)

Estonia is a source, transit, and destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Estonian women and girls are trafficked to Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands for purposes of sexual exploitation. Men and women were trafficked from Estonia to the United Kingdom for the purpose of forced labor.

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. Although the number of trafficking investigations, prosecutions, and convictions declined in 2006, Estonia demonstrated continued political will to combat trafficking by implementing its national action plan and increasing its anti-trafficking budget from $14,000 to $96,000; the majority of this money was allocated for victim assistance and trafficking prevention programs. Estonia should boost its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts and continue to improve coordination efforts with regional counterparts on victim identification and repatriation. Estonia should also consider drafting a trafficking-specific law that incorporates a broader definition of trafficking in persons and is consistent with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.


Estonian law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking, although the criminal code does prohibit enslavement, abduction, pimping, and a number of other trafficking-related crimes. The penalties for such acts range from five to 15 years' imprisonment, and are commensurate with those for other grave crimes such as sexual assault. In 2006, police conducted three trafficking investigations. Authorities prosecuted one confirmed trafficking case and convicted one trafficker for aiding in the prostitution of minors over the reporting period. The trafficker was sentenced to six months' imprisonment. Nevertheless, the lack of a trafficking-specific law in Estonia created difficulties in accurately quantifying the government's efforts to combat trafficking. For example, foreign governments identified 49 Estonians as trafficking victims in 2006. Although Estonia recognized all 49 as victims of trafficking crimes, the government reported only five of them as trafficking victims in Estonian government statistics.


Although Estonia significantly improved its victim assistance policies, no victims received state assistance during the reporting period. In accordance with the 2006 National Action Plan, Estonia systemized its support services and increased cooperation between NGOs and national victim support services. During the reporting period, state social workers and victims' assistants provided victim identification and referral training to law enforcement. Estonian authorities do not penalize victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. Estonia encourages trafficking victims to participate in trafficking investigations and prosecutions. In 2006, Estonia amended its law to allow foreign trafficking victims to obtain temporary residency permits during the duration of the criminal investigation and prosecution of their case.


The government continued to increase its trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. In October, the government provided funding to an NGO operating Estonia's only trafficking dedicated hotline. The government had planned to begin funding the hotline in January 2007, but it stepped in earlier because the hotline ran out of funds in late 2006. The Ministry of Social Affairs conducted 19 lectures to educate the public and government officials on the realities of trafficking; in total, more than 800 people including high school and university students, consular officers, Estonian soldiers deploying abroad, social workers, police, members of women's organizations, prosecutors, and judges attended these lectures. In total, the Ministry of Social Affairs spent $25,000 on awareness raising and victim identification training in 2006.


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