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U.S. Statement on the UPR Working Group Intervention for Estonia
February 2, 2011

Remarks by the Delegation of the United States of America

UPR Working Group Intervention for Estonia, 10th Session

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The United States warmly welcomes His Excellency Mr. Alar Streimar and the Estonian delegation to the UPR Working Group and commends Estonia on the completion of its national report and its well-prepared and responsive presentation today. We have carefully reviewed the content of the report and followed the presentation today and would like to raise the following issues.

The United States commends Estonia for the rapid progress that it has achieved in just under two decades since regaining independence. This journey is an inspiration to all who value freedom, democracy, and human rights. We admire the leadership Estonia has recently provided in helping to establish UN Women within the UN system. Estonia’s action plan for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 is exemplary, and provides options for improving the human rights situation in societies grappling with conflict. We encourage Estonia to remain on its current path of strengthening civil society and building strong institutions that protect the human rights of all in Estonia.

We note that Estonia has addressed issues related to Trafficking in Persons in its national report and in its presentation this morning. We welcome Estonia’s commitment to countering this scourge in all its forms, and we recognize the government’s support, even during times of economic hardship, for funding programs for victims’ services and education. The introduction of TIP specific legislation will assist in putting Estonia’s efforts on much sounder footing, enabling swifter prosecution and improving international cooperation that is necessary to bring traffickers to justice. When does the delegation foresee enactment of this legislation?

The introduction of the Equal Treatment Act and the establishment of the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner are welcome developments. We greatly appreciate the the detailed information the delegation has just provided on the issue of gender equality, and we encourage Estonia to continue to raise awareness of the gender equality issues this legislation was designed to address, and to develop educational programs to increase tolerance and diminish discrimination. We also appreciate the delegation’s focus on the pay gap and we would like to highlight our concern on this issue.

We would like to draw the delegation’s attention to the Estonian Legal Chancellor’s findings on prison and detention center conditions. While improvements have been made recently, this is an issue that requires continued efforts. Does the government have a long-term plan to improve conditions of these facilities?

We greatly admire Estonia’s progress in developing civil society, and greatly appreciated the delegation’s focus on this issue. We welcome the continued emphasis Estonia places on this critical element that is central to safeguarding human rights. Taking note of the delegation’s earlier response, we would appreciate any further information regarding the the creation of the new civil society development plan mentioned in its national report.

Bearing in mind these concerns, the United States would like to make the

following two recommendations:

1. That Estonia enact specific legislation regarding trafficking in persons.

2. That Estonia Improve conditions in prisons and detention centers.