European Committee of Social Rights: Estonia

2015

(January 2016, Conclusions 2015)

“In its previous conclusion (Conclusions 2011) the Committee held that the situation was not in conformity with the Charter as corporal punishment was not explicitly prohibited in the home and in schools.

“The Committee notes from the report that Section 24 (1) of the new Child Protection Act fully prohibits the abuse of children in all its manifestations and explicitely names corporal punishment as a form of abuse of a child and therefore prohibits it. As regards corporal punishment in schools, pursuant to Section 44 of the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act schools must ensure the mental and physical security of students, which includes protection against corporal punishment. Teachers having utilised this form of ’educating’ have been prosecuted on the basis of Article 121 of the Penal Code.

“The Committee notes from another source (Global Initiative to end corporal punishment) that the law reform has been achieved. Corporal punishment is prohibited in all settings, including the home.

“The Committee considers that the situation has been brought into conformity.”

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2011

(January 2012, Conclusions 2011)

"In its previous conclusion the Committee held that the situation was not in conformity with the Charter as there was no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in the home. In this connection the report states that a provision about the obligation of mutual support and respect has been added to the new Family Law Act in addition to Section 121 of the Penal Code that prescribes a penalty for physical abuse.

"The Committee notes from the report of the Governmental Committee to the Committee of Ministers (TS-G (2005) 24, § 74) that the proposed new Child Protection Act will seek to explicitly prohibit physical punishment of children. The Committee notes that the report does not provide any information regarding the new Act.

"The Committee notes from another source that corporal punishment is lawful in the home. There is no legal defence for its use enshrined in law, but it is widely socially and legally accepted. Section 31(1) of the Child Protection Act (1992) prohibits only corporal punishment which is considered to cause harm: 'Every child shall at all times be treated as an individual with consideration for his or her character, age and sex. It is prohibited to humiliate, frighten or punish the child in any way which abuses the child, causes bodily harm or otherwise endangers his or her mental or physical health.' According to this source, provisions against violence and abuse in the Child Protection Act, the Family Law (1994), the Code of Administrative Offences and the Penal Code (2002) are not interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment in childrearing. However, according to the same source, the Government is committed to prohibition, as at November 2010 there were plans to draft a new Child Protection Act. Nevertheless, the Committee notes that the situation which it has previously held not to be in conformity has not changed during the reference period. Therefore it reiterates its previous finding of non-conformity.

"In its previous conclusion the Committee asked whether Section 40 of the Child Protection Act required that corporal punishment was indeed prohibited in schools. It notes from the report that Section 44 of the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act provides that the schools have to ensure the mental and physical safety and health protection of the student while he or she is at school, which involves protection against corporal punishment.

"The Committee notes from the above mentioned source that there is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in schools, but it is considered unlawful under article 40.1 of the Child Protection Act, which states 'Instruction shall not involve physical violence or mental abuse', and the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act (1993) which obligates the school to guarantee the student’s mental and physical security and the protection of his/her health.

"The Committee considers that despite the provisions in the legislation relating to protection of children from ill treatment, there is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in schools, thus amounting to a violation of the Charter.

"The Committee takes note of various initiatives, including training events which were implemented with a view to preventing the abuse of children.…

"The Committee concludes that the situation in Estonia is not in conformity with Article 17§1 of the Charter on the ground that corporal punishment is not explicitly prohibited in schools and in the home."

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2005

(March 2005, Conclusions 2005)

"The Constitution establishes that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel or degrading treatment or punishment. The Child Protection Act establishes that it is prohibited to humiliate, frighten or punish a child in any way which abuses him or her, causes bodily harm or otherwise endangers his or her mental or physical health.

"Furthermore, Section 40 of the Act, under the heading Education, stipulates that instruction may not involve physical violence or mental abuse. The Committee asks that the next report confirm that this entails that corporal punishment is indeed prohibited in all schools. It asks that the next report provide information on the prohibition of corporal punishment in institutions.

"The Committee recalls that Article 17 requires a prohibition in legislation against any form of violence against children, whether at school, in other institutions, in their home or elsewhere. It considers that this prohibition must be combined with adequate sanctions in penal or civil law. Therefore, it considers that since there is no prohibition in legislation of corporal punishment in the home, the situation in Estonia cannot be considered to be in conformity with Article 17 of the Charter.

"The Committee concludes that the situation in Estonia is not in conformity with Article 17.1 of the Revised Charter on the ground that corporal punishment of children is not prohibited within the family."

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