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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                               

Republic of Estonia

Estonia, a 2004 European Union entrant, has a modern market-based economy and one of the highest per capita income levels in Central Europe.

Estonia's economy slowed down markedly and even fell into recession in mid-2008, primarily as a result of an investment and consumption slump following the bursting of the real estate market bubble.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Estonia

Estonia is a source country for the trafficking of women to Norway, the United Kingdom, and Finland for the purpose of forced prostitution. Estonian men were trafficked within the country for forced labor, specifically forced criminal acts and to Ukraine for forced labor in the construction industry.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009     Check out a later country report here or a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Estonia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

Police Department

Emergency: 112

Non-emergency: 110

Country code: 372-



Ambassador Joseph M. DeThomas' opening remarks at The Estonian Women's Studies and Resource Centre Conference Radisson SAS Hotel, Tallinn Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Embassy of the United States, Estonia, February 18, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 September 2011]

It should not be that up to twenty thousand people a year are trafficked into my country. It should not be that their fate is shared by perhaps 800 thousand people a year trafficked in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. It should not be that the third largest source income for organized crime (after the sale of drugs and guns) is the sale of human beings. Some number of those human beings is Estonian. I do not know how many, but I know that it should not be that any Estonian is lost to this practice.

Second, we need to protect and rehabilitate victims. One of the great obstacles to ending this practice is that, once they are entrapped, the victims are treated as lawbreakers. This gives the traffickers a weapon of coercion. It means that law enforcement authorities tend to ignore their charges and fail to protect them so that they can testify. It means that victims feel trapped by a lack of opportunities for rehabilitation.

Third, we need to prevent the crime. Criminals do not kidnap the majority of victims of trafficking in Europe, nor do friends or relatives sell them into their fate. (This does happen on a massive scale elsewhere in the world.) They are duped into participating. Many young women, boys and girls are duped into believing they are being recruited to honest work abroad. Once they accept offers from these recruiters, they are trapped. This is happening as we speak in this country. We need to warn and educate people about this practice.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Estonia 'has become a destination country for human trafficking'

ERR News, 18.10.2019

[accessed 23  October 2019]

This year the Social Insurance Agency has officially identified 36 foreign victims of human trafficking, which is three times more than last year's total.   Apart from one person, everyone else was a victim of sexual abuse.

Many of the victims have come from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldova and other countries and arrive in Estonia in an economically or socially vulnerable situation.

"Work-related exploitation is also a concern. The local labor market, particularly the construction, cleaning and industrial sectors, hides many victims of human trafficking. There have also been cases in catering businesses, although there are no criminal cases yet," said Blumberg.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Estonia

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 6 June 2021]


The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and the government effectively enforced the law. Authorities prosecuted and convicted three persons for labor-related trafficking crimes during the year. Penalties for human trafficking and forced-labor offenses were commensurate with those for other analogous serious crimes, but sentences often failed to reflect the seriousness of the crime.


The government effectively enforced laws and policies to protect children from exploitation in the workplace. Penalties were commensurate with those for analogous serious crimes. The Labor Inspectorate monitored whether the conditions for child workers were appropriate.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 23 July 2020]


Estonia is a source, transit point, and destination for human trafficking. Although the government makes serious and sustained efforts to prosecute traffickers and provide services to victims, in recent years the number of victims has increased, and the number of investigations and prosecutions of people involved in human trafficking has decreased.

Estonia’s unemployment rate was relatively low in 2019. However, according to Eurostat, almost a quarter of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2018. Lawmakers raised the monthly minimum wage again in December 2019 to combat this issue.

Project for the Prevention of Adolescent Trafficking

The International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA), NGO Living for Tomorrow, and AIDS-I Tugikeskus AIDS Information & Support Center,  November 30, 2001

[accessed 4 February 2011]

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - This project proposes to replicate in Estonia the successful Project for the Prevention of Adolescent Trafficking in Latvia (PPAT-Latvia) currently sponsored by the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM).   PPAT-Estonia is being developed in response to a growing body of evidence which indicates that 1) trafficking is a burgeoning problem in Estonia, 2) the problem of trafficking is not being adequately addressed in Estonia, and 3) victims of trafficking in Estonia tend to be under the age of 25.  The goal of this project is to prevent the trafficking of adolescents in Estonia by raising awareness and educating youth about the issue of human trafficking and forced labor.  The project will also focus on building the capacity of local youth serving NGOs to educate youth on the issue of human trafficking and work to increase the cooperation between NGOs and the Estonian government on the issue of combating human trafficking.

Joint East West Research On Trafficking In Children For Sexual Purposes In Europe: The Sending Countries [PDF]

Edited by: Muireann O’Briain, Anke van den Borne, and Theo Noten, ECPAT Europe Law Enforcement Group, Amsterdam, 2004

[accessed 4 February 2011]

[accessed 28 January 2018]

[page 30 & 31] MIGRATION - The desire of young people to change their future by migrating and working abroad is another risk factor. Many children are not aware of their rights, lack information and do not know the legal procedures for travelling abroad, and the risks related to migration. The search for adventure, idealised notions about living abroad, and success stories from those who return from abroad encourage risk-taking. Very importantly, the reports note the risks to children who may have migrated normally with their families or voluntarily on their own, but who end up in foreign countries without any protections, and so become extremely vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking. They get involved in petty crime and move into prostitution as a survival strategy, or because they are found by someone who will exploit them. Many people, and especially young people, are migrating because of the lack of opportunities for them in their own countries. The fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’ and the links with countries of the European Union have opened up both borders and travel opportunities, and at the same time the increasing gap between rich and poor, the growth of international organised crime, and corruption, provide their own incentives or opportunities.

Another issue highlighted in some reports is the lack of migration policies on the part of governments which would help young people to migrate safely. The Belarus report mentions that less than 5% of those who want to leave the country had adequate information about employment outside the country. The Estonian, Romanian and Ukraine reports also refer to this lack of information among young people trying to emigrate. In such circumstances, it is not surprising that young people are vulnerable to sexual exploitation. On the other hand, research among 24 victims in Moldova by an NGO, CIVIS, found that half of the young people had known about trafficking, but had hoped it would not happen in their cases. Most, however, said that if they had been informed about the dangers, they would have avoided the experience.

Trafficking In Children For Sexual Purposes In Europe: The Sending Countries. Estonian Country Report

Research Report by Aire Trummal, Edited by Muireann O’Briain, Tallinn 2003

[accessed 28 January 2018]

[accessed 3 February 2019]

1. INTRODUCTION - THE ISSUE OF TRAFFICKING -- Like in other post-soviet countries, the Estonian sex industry started to thrive after the country’s new independence in the middle of the 1990s, when the number of brothels and persons involved in prostitution increased tremendously.  Drug trafficking, prostitution, and excise fraud are the main income sources for organised crime today.

There are some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that support the victims of trafficking among their other activities, by helping with repatriations or with prevention work.  There is no organisation which only works with trafficked and sexually exploited persons.  Today there is no state level strategy or programme in Estonia on preventing and combating trafficking and supporting victims.  No significant separate attention has been given to the involvement of minors in cross-border trafficking.

Grants issued by the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn

Embassy of the United States, Estonia

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 September 2011]

q  Combating Human Trafficking in Estonia: Women and Children

q  Preventive-informative campaign against trafficking in girls and women in the Baltic States …

q  To prevent the trafficking of adolescents in Estonia by raising awareness and educating youth …

q  Participation of 11 Estonian officials from various ministries and also NGOs …

q  Prevention of Human Trafficking

q  Combating trafficking in women

q  Research and Information on Trafficking in Persons in Estonia

q  Prevention of Human Trafficking

q  To increase the knowledge of primary school graduates of Valga and Jõgeva counties …

q  Anti-Trafficking Hotline Service for Women

Prevention of human trafficking in Estonia

Child Centre for Children at Risk in the Baltic Sea Region, December 30, 2002

[accessed 4 February 2011]

Human Trafficking is an increasing problem both in Estonia and throughout the whole world. Combat against human trafficking means protection of human rights, and is closely related to national and international security considerations.

Articles (in Estonian) can be downloaded on website of ENUT (The Estonian Women's Studies and Resource Centre):

As future job-seekers, what do female high school graduates in Estonia know about trafficking in human beings?

Marion Pajumets, Report, Tallinn, 2002

Child Centre for Children at Risk in the Baltic Sea Region, December 30, 2002

[accessed 4 February 2011]

[accessed 27 April 2020]

The present study of the awareness that graduating female high school students have, as a group at risk of being trafficked, is part of the campaign activity in Estonia. The study was conducted by sociologistsi (Marion Pajumets)at the Estonian Institute of Humanities.

The Department of Labor’s 2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2004

[accessed 4 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND PROGRAMS TO ELIMINATE THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR - From 1998 to 2000, the Government of Estonia participated in a European Commission anti-trafficking initiative called the STOP Project.  The second phase of the project, “Minors in the Sex Trade,” promoted networking among law enforcement officials in Estonia and other countries in the region.  From 2001 to 2002, Estonian government ministries, migration authorities and police participated in a regional IOM project to gather information and raise awareness about the problem of trafficking, and strengthen the capacity of the Baltic governments to prevent trafficking.

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Children are engaged in prostitution in Estonia. Estonia is a source country for women and girls trafficked internally and abroad for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 31 January 2003

[accessed 4 February 2011]

[36] The Committee is concerned that there is no effective system for the screening of foster or adoptive parents, including national standards and efficient mechanism to prevent the sale and trafficking of children, to review, monitor and follow up the placement of children, and collect statistics on foster care and adoption, including inter-country adoption.

[48] The Committee is concerned at the insufficient information and awareness of the extent of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. It is also concerned that there is no specific prohibition in law of trafficking in human beings, including for the purpose of prostitution.

Trafficking in Women and Prostitu-tion in the Baltic States: Social and Legal Aspects

Aet Annist, University of Tartu, International Organization for Migration, 2001 - ISBN-92-9068-117-9

[Long URL]

[accessed 18 February 2022]

The three Baltic States have got their share of the trafficking problem while going through an adjustment period after the ending of the Soviet era and re-establishing their independent statehood in the early 1990s. A common feature to almost every country that emerged from the Soviet legacy is that the lack of new work opportunities has hit more on women than on men in the transition to market economy. In the Baltic States, this has been the case especially with the women of the ethnic minorities who are over-represented among prostitutes and trafficked women. In general, the lack of opportunities for women has made many seize the opportunity to make earnings in sex industry through prostituting either in the home country or abroad, sometimes helped by traffickers. Some begin sex work voluntarily,  some are deceived by traffickers with false promises of other work and later forced to commercial sex.

Protection Project Country Report on Estonia [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[Last accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Estonian women are trafficked for several purposes. Often the women are forced to work in prostitution, as domestic workers, nannies, dancers, striptease dancers, or waitresses or to become brides for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation.  Women and minors respond to job opportunities that they see in newspapers or hear about through acquaintances. Young girls are also lured by recruiters posing as boyfriends.   The victims of trafficking from Estonia are often members of the Russian-speaking community in the northeastern portion of the country.


2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 20 April 2018

[accessed 22 March 2019]

[accessed 26 June 2019]


The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and the government effectively enforced the law. In 2016 police registered two cases of a forced-labor crime. In 2016, 14 cases concerning trafficking in persons reached the courts; 29 individuals, of whom seven were women, and two companies were found guilty. Penalties for human trafficking and forced-labor offenses range up to 15 years’ imprisonment. While penalties for violations were sufficient, their application in sentencing often failed to reflect the seriousness of the crime.


The government effectively enforced laws and policies to protect children from exploitation in the workplace.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 8 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – A recent study carried out by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in which more than 160 domestic and international sources (including EUROPOL, INTERPOL, law enforcement, NGOs, IOM, and governmental ministries from the region) participated, estimates that the number of women and children trafficked into, through, and from the country between 2001 and 2004 was below 100. Women and minors were trafficked from the country to Nordic countries and Western Europe or in or to Estonia for sexual exploitation.

The trafficking pattern appeared to be unchanged from recent years. Travel-friendly regulations, short distances, low travel costs, and the draw of legitimate employment make the Nordic and EU countries easier destination points for traffickers. The traffickers were individuals, small groups, and organized criminals who ran the prostitution industry and mainly lured victims with the promise of legitimate employment and/or the opportunity to live and study abroad. The traffickers tended to befriend the victims or attempted to pass themselves off as legitimate job mediators. Due to fairly liberal travel regulations around the region, false documentation was not always necessary.

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