91,000 stateless people have limited political rights in Estonia, Amnesty 2015 report says


In its latest Estonia brief, the world's largest human rights organization Amnesty International points out that about 91,000 people remain stateless in the country.

Starting with positive, the report highlights the fact that the legislation allowing same-sex couples to register their cohabitation was passed last year. “In October, parliament passed a gender-neutral Cohabitation Act, due to enter into force on January 1 2016. The Act allows unmarried, including same-sex, couples to register their cohabitation. It also extends to them many of the rights of married couples, for example regarding benefits. Couples in a registered cohabitation agreement will be allowed to adopt the partner’s biological children.”

With regards to discrimination of ethnic minorities, the report cites UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, which stated that about 91,000 people (approximately 6.8% of the population) remained stateless; the vast majority were Russian speakers.

“Stateless people enjoyed limited political rights. Efforts by the authorities to facilitate the naturalization of children born of stateless parents fell short of granting them automatic citizenship at birth, leaving Estonia in breach of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Amnesty said.

“Ethnic minorities continued to be disproportionately affected by unemployment and poverty, leading to concerns that ethnic and linguistic discrimination could be a contributing factor. Language requirements for employment were reportedly placing ethnic minorities at a disadvantage,” it added.

In relation to asylum-seekers, Amnesty said that the number of asylum applications in Estonia remained low. “Approximately 120 were made in the first 10 months of the year, of which some 35 were from Ukrainian nationals. At least 20 people had been granted asylum as of the end of November. There was concern that asylum-seekers could be denied access to asylum at borders and refused entry. Reports indicated that the provision of legal aid and interpretation to asylum-seekers had improved.”

Amnesty also mentioned that Estonia agreed to accept for resettlement a former Guantánamo detainee.

Founded in 1961 in London, Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization focused on human rights with over 7 million members and supporters around the world. The stated objective of the organisation is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."

Editor: S. Tambur

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