ESTONIA (Tier 1)
The Government of Estonia fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Estonia remained on Tier 1. These efforts included convicting more traffickers; issuing sentences involving significant prison terms; providing victim support services to all identified and potential victims; and developing a three-year anti-trafficking NAP. In addition, the government passed amendments to the Victim Support Act (VSA) more clearly defining educational requirements for specialists working with victims and the provision of services. The government also enacted a new law raising the age of consent from 14 to 16 years old to help protect children from sexual crimes, including trafficking. Furthermore, to reduce the risk of trafficking among Ukrainian refugees, the Labor Inspectorate (LI) hired 10 labor inspectors and five lawyers to conduct inspections of workplaces where Ukrainian refugees were employed and provide counseling. Although the government meets the minimum standards, authorities prosecuted fewer traffickers, marking the fewest prosecutions since 2015. For the second consecutive year, the government changed the methodology for collecting and reporting investigation and identification statistics, making it difficult for the government to understand accurately the trafficking situation in country, discern year-to-year trends, and compare data. Moreover, the government reported the fewest number of identified victims since it started tracking and reporting data. Finally, the government decreased funding toward victim support services.
- Significantly increase efforts to identify potential trafficking victims.
- Proactively investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers.
- Implement with consistency a reliable comprehensive statistical system for collecting and collating data, particularly for investigations and victim identification, and ensure the reported data is accurate, official, and comparable to previous years.
- Ensure adequate financial support for victim support services.
- Increase efforts to grant residence permits to foreign victims.
- Expand efforts to conduct more international investigations, particularly on sophisticated labor trafficking schemes that occur across multiple countries and jurisdictions.
- Train relevant authorities to understand different types of trafficking, recognize indicators, and identify victims.
- Establish a specialized unit within the police to prioritize trafficking cases and train them on building cases, such as collecting evidence, and allocate funding for investigations.