Justice ministry sets out long-term violence prevention plan

Minister of Justice Maris Lauri (Reform).
Minister of Justice Maris Lauri (Reform). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Ministry of Justice has drawn up a draft pact on violence prevention, which will pay more attention to domestic and other violence, particularly directed against children and women.

The pact covers the years 2021-2025, while the draft is currently out for coordination and feedback.

"There is still too much violence in Estonia," justice minister Maris Lauri (Reform) said.

"The latest pan-European survey of victims of crime by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) showed that Estonia has experienced the highest level physical violence among people over the age of 16 in Europe," the minister went on.

In the five years preceding the survey 18 percent of respondents said they had experienced physical violence, in Estonia, compared with 9 percent in Europe on average, while the corresponding figures for the one year preceding the study are 10 percent and six percent respectively, Lauri said.

"Violence is not merely a matter for the victim and the perpetrator, it also affects their family members, bystanders and society as a whole," she went on, according to a ministry press release. "Violence is also very costly for the state: Ff we take into account procedural, social, health and other costs, [it costs the state] millions of euros a year."

The social and other costs also had to be added to that, she said.

The pact sets out 14 action points, which include working with children and young people, their parents, schools, youth and hobby centers etc.

Implementing the pact is being coordinated by Lauri's ministry, while combating human trafficking and sexual violence was also being considered, as was the need to better train professionals' skills in and desire to intervene.

Friendlier treatment and care of victims, involving health and social workers more, and even working more with perpetrators to steer them away from such behaviors was also needed, the ministry says.

The agreement also aims at better detection and prevention of violence against the elderly, and the prevention of violence in the cyber sphere.

"It is important that society understands that changing violent behavior is possible and that the responsibility lies with the individual. Successful prevention and reduction of violence is possible only in cooperation between different agencies and state levels," Lauri continued.

The agreement on violence prevention is based on the state's long-term strategies "Estonia 2035" and "Fundamentals of Criminal Policy until 2030", and was drafted by the Ministry of Justice together with partners, including violence prevention leaders, representative organizations and practitioners in the field, taking into account expert assessments and recommendations of international organizations and the results of research and implementation of the current violence prevention strategy. 

The support line for those aiming to quit violent activity or concerned about their or others' violent activity is +372 660 6077, weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The victim support helpline is +372 116006, the women's support helpline is +372 1492 and the child support helpline is +372 116 111.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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