Report: Human rights in Estonia have deteriorated over last 2 years

A protest in favor of same-sex marriage in Tallinn in 2020.
A protest in favor of same-sex marriage in Tallinn in 2020. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The human rights situation in Estonia has deteriorated over the last two years, experts said on Friday which is international Human Rights Day. A number of "major" issues are waiting for solutions.

A new report human rights report on developments between 2020-2021 was published on Friday marking the occasion.

Executive director of the Human Rights Center Egert Rünne said even though Estonia has 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 marriage referendum was canceled, but the government has not begun to tackle problems that have been waiting for years to be resolved," Rünne said.

The report said "major human rights problems" that are still waiting for a solution.

These include acknowledging "the Equal Treatment Act is discriminatory, the implementing provisions of the Registered Partnership Act which 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," said Liina Laanpere, author of the coronavirus-themed chapter.

The Estonian Human Rights Center has published the human rights report since 2007 with the help of donations. The full report can be read here in English.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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