Democracy & Justice

New Report: Human Rights Situation in Estonia Has Deteriorated

The Estonian Human Rights Centre has published their 10th report on the current status of human rights in Estonia. The wide-reaching report covers established issues, as well as new concerns that have arisen during the coronavirus pandemic.

by Estonian Human Rights Centre

On International Human Rights Day on December 10, Estonian Human Rights Centre published a new human rights report on developments between 2020–2021. According to experts, the human rights situation in Estonia has deteriorated in the last two years.

Executive Director of the Human Rights Centre Egert Rünne says that even though we have rediscovered the importance of ensuring human rights in light of the political and health crises in the last few years, the national protection of human rights has unfortunately failed to gain momentum. “It is positive that the divisive marriage referendum was cancelled, but the government has not begun to tackle problems that have been waiting for years to be resolved,” says Rünne.

The new report points to major human rights problems that are still waiting for a solution: the Equal Treatment Act is discriminatory, the implementing provisions of the Registered Partnership Act have been waiting for adoption for seven years, the government has not taken measures to counter hate speech, all prisoners are still subjected to a general ban on voting, and the retention of telecommunications data is not compliant with European Union law. The few changes for the better which can be highlighted are the improvement of the availability of psychological help to minors and the raising of the age of sexual consent to 16 years.

For the first time, the report addresses social human rights and restrictions applied during the coronavirus pandemic. During the reporting period, COVID-19 restrictions have affected freedom of movement, assembly and association, the right to respect for private and family life, the right to education and the right to conduct business. “Restrictions on basic rights and freedoms have not been disproportionate, but the reasons provided by officials and politicians for this have not always been clear or understandable,” explains the author of the coronavirus-themed chapter Liina Laanpere.

The Human Rights in Estonia 2022 report consists of 14 chapters, the authors of which are independent experts from various non-governmental organisations. The topics addressed by the specialists in their comprehensive analysis include the situation of ethnic minorities, refugees, asylum seekers and disabled people as well as freedom of assembly, administration of justice and freedom of speech. The Estonian Human Rights Centre has published the human rights report since 2007 with the help of donations. The current report is the 10th such report and is published in Estonian, English and Russian. The Estonian Human Rights Centre is an independent non-governmental human rights organisation, which, alongside its supporters, stands for an Estonia where the rights and freedoms of every person are respected.

Image credit: Flickr.com

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