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Annual Report: Estonia Lacks Human Rights Framework

Source: Photo: Screenshot of the Human Rights Center's website

The Estonian Human Rights Center's annual report, released Tuesday, expressed concern that there is no unified national framework for human rights.

The annual report points to whole areas of human rights which do not currently fall under the jurisdiction of any institution, reported ETV. The Human Rights Center said it will activate discussions on refugees, equal treatment, and move forward with legislation on hate crimes and the ratification of a convention for the disabled.

Emphasis is given to problems related to the status of refugees, including what the report describes as poor social assistance and insufficient language teaching.

The head of the Human Rights Center, Kari Käsper, told ERR radio that the current institutions have limited competence, lacking consistent systematic approaches and political will.

“It is the state that has the obligation of protecting human rights; has a duty to its citizens and the international community,” said Käsper.

Another major issue is the low funding, 60,000-70,000 euros annually, of the government's equality commissioner. The agency receives financing from Norway, but the Estonian government seems to think it is not a priority, Käsper said. Given the expectations and resources, Käsper said, the agency is overwhelmed.

“Can you achieve all the important goals with this money? I think not,” Käsper said.

Many issues on last year's report have been addressed, according to Käsper. These include plans to reduce the gender wage gap, a decision to move the asylum seekers center to Väike-Maarja and more stringent human trafficking laws.

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