In its first report on Estonia, published today, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) welcomes the measures taken by Estonia in terms of legislation, training and awareness-raising, and calls on the authorities to improve victim identification and protection.
GRETA stresses that all persons subjected to human trafficking for different purposes of exploitation should be identified as such, regardless of whether criminal investigations into trafficking cases are initiated, so that they can fully benefit from the assistance and protection measures provided for under the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. For this purpose GRETA recommends the introduction of a National Referral Mechanism and the provision of all relevant actors with training, guidance and tools for its effective implementation.
As regards protection, the scope of application of the recovery and reflection period should be extended to cover presumed victims, avoid their removal from the country and to allow them taking an informed decision whether to participate in the investigation and criminal proceedings. Victims of trafficking should have effective access to compensation from perpetrators and from the State, and should systematically be informed of and granted temporary residence permits, including on the basis of their personal situation.
GRETA also stresses the need for a dedicated national action plan and/or strategy, addressing human trafficking for all forms of exploitation, while taking into account the gender-dimension of trafficking and the particular vulnerability of children. A comprehensive and coherent data collection system for compiling reliable statistical data on measures to protect and promote the rights of victims of trafficking, accompanied by personal data protection measures, should be set up.
The report underlines the need to further strengthen the effectiveness of investigations and prosecutions to secure proportionate and dissuasive sanctions for the traffickers, including effective enforcement of imprisonment sentences. It also recommends better protection of victims, and prevention of their intimidation during the investigation and during and after the court proceedings.
The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings entered into force in Estonia on 1 June 2015.