The United Nations Human Rights Committee is a UN body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its 172 State parties.
Estonia went under its fourth periodic review at UN Human Rights Committee within the 125th session on 4-29 March 2019.
As we informed earlier, ECOM submitted an alternative report on discrimination against LGBTQ community in Estonia, in particular HIV-related issues among MSM. ECOM’s Human Rights and Legal Issues Officer presented the report at the session and advocated for gender identity to be considered as a ground for protection from discrimination and to be included in the 151 and 152 articles of Criminal Code of Estonia.
In its concluding observations, Committee made important remarks related to SOGI:
Hate speech and hate crimes
- The Committee is concerned that the current legal framework does not provide comprehensive protection against hate speech and hate crimes, inter alia due to the light penalties and the high threshold for the offence of incitement to hatred, violence or discrimination under article 151 of the Criminal Code that requires danger to the life, health or property of the victim; the absence of gender identity among the prohibited grounds for offences against equality in articles 151 and 152 of the Criminal Code; and of recognition of hate motives, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, as aggravating circumstances for all offences.
While welcoming the measures taken to combat hate speech and hate crimes, including the creation of web constables to identify and react to online hate speech, the Committee remains concerned about reports of hate speech, including by opinion makers and politicians, and hate crimes.
While noting that data on hate crimes has been collected since autumn 2016 and that IT support was introduced to better categorize incidents motivated by hatred while registering criminal complaints, the Committee regrets the lack of specific data on the number of complaints regarding hate speech and hate crimes, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and on their effective investigation and prosecution (arts. 2, 19, 20 and 26). 14.
The State party should ensure effective protection against hate speech and hate crimes, both in law and in practice, in accordance with articles 19 and 20 of the Covenant and the Committee’s general comment No. 34 (2011) on freedoms of opinion and expression, including by:
(a) Revising the penalties and the threshold for the offence of incitement to hatred, violence or discrimination under article 151 of the Criminal Code;
(b) Including gender identity among the prohibited grounds for hatredmotivated offences provided for in articles 151 and 152 of the Criminal Code;
(c) Recognising hate motives, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, as aggravating circumstances for all offences;
(e) Conducting regular awareness-raising activities among the public at large aimed at promoting mutual tolerance, respect for diversity and countering hatred; ensure continuous training on hate crimes for law enforcement officials, border guards, prosecutors and judges; and expanding the number of web constables as planned;
(f) Investigating hate crimes effectively, prosecuting suspected perpetrators where appropriate and, if convicted, punishing them with appropriate sanctions; and providing victims with adequate remedies.
Dissemination and follow-up
- In accordance with rule 75, paragraph 1, of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the State party is requested to provide, by 29 March 2021, information on the implementation of the recommendations made by the Committee in paragraphs 14 (Hate speech and hate crimes), 24 (Non-consensual psychiatric treatment) and 28 (Refugees and asylum seekers) above.
A full list of Concluding observations and other documents of the Session is available at HRC webiste at this link