Estonia commits to combat forced labour

December 19, 2016

Four countries have now met the European Union’s suggested deadline for ratification of the Forced Labour Protocol.

Photo: Põhja-Kõrvemaa Nature Reserve, Estonia (Aleksandr Abrosimov)


Estonia has become the tenth country to ratify the Forced Labour Protocol, making a formal commitment to take new measures tackling modern slavery in all its forms, including protection, prevention and access to justice.

In November 2015, the European Union Council authorised European Union Member States to ratify the Protocol, stating that “Member States should take the necessary steps to deposit their instruments of ratification of the Protocol with the Director-General of the International Labour Office as soon as possible, preferably by 31 December 2016.”

So far, only four EU countries have met this deadline, namely United Kingdom, Czech Republic, France and now Estonia.

Legislative framework

Estonia strengthened its legislative framework against trafficking in persons by amending its Penal Code in 2012 and 2014. The Penal Code defines and criminalizes trafficking for both sexual and labour exploitation and allows the Court to confiscate assets or property acquired by perpetrator.

The country’s institutional framework has also been bolstered by the appointment of a National Coordinator. In addition, the ‘Development plan for reducing violence (2010–14)’ provides a multi-layered action plan against trafficking, which focuses on both sexual and labour exploitation. It includes measures covering prevention, assistance to victims and the strengthening of investigations.

Estonia is a member of the Council of the Baltic Sea States Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings and the Working Group on Children at Risk in the Baltic Sea Region.

The ten countries that have ratified the Protocol are Niger, Norway, United Kingdom, Mauritania, Mali, France, Czech Republic, Panama, Argentina and Estonia.