COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
6-24 March 2000
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
of the Committee on the Elimination of
1. The Committee considered the initial, second, third, and fourth
periodic reports of Estonia, submitted in one document (CERD/C/329/Add.2),
at its 1387th and 1388th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1387 and 1388), held
on 15 and 17 March 2000. At its 1398th meeting, held on 24 March
2000, it adopted the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes
the detailed and comprehensive report submitted by the State party,
drafted in accordance with its guidelines for the preparation
of reports, and the additional oral information provided by the
delegation. The initiation of a frank and constructive dialogue
with the State party is equally welcomed.
3. The Committee was
encouraged by the attendance of a high-ranking delegation and
expresses its appreciation for the candid and constructive response
of its members to the questions asked and comments made by the
members of the Committee.
B. Factors and
difficulties impeding implementation of the Convention
4. Having regained independence in 1991, the State party has begun
the process of legislative reform and efforts in the social, economic
and cultural field in the midst of economic and political transition.
In doing so, the State party must deal with a legacy of difficult
relations among various ethnic groups.
C. Positive aspects
5. The Committee notes
with satisfaction that, notwithstanding the difficulties in this
period of transition, the State party has made important progress
in the area of legislative reform. It notes that among the first
priorities established by Estonia was the ratification of international
and regional human rights instruments. It welcomes the information
provided by the State party that the provisions of the International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,
and other international treaties, have primacy over domestic legislation
and may be directly invoked in the courts.
6. The Committee notes
with satisfaction the initiative taken by the State party to encourage
integration of members of different nationalities residing on
its territory, such as the draft State programme "Integration
in Estonian Society 2000-2007" recently submitted to the Parliament
7. The Committee welcomes
the fact that the right to vote in local elections has been granted
to all permanent residents, regardless of their nationality.
8. The Committee notes
positively the existence of considerable number of organizations
promoting minority cultures, as well as of a developed Russian-speaking
C. Concerns and recommendations
9. The Committee is
concerned that the definition of national minorities contained
in the 1993 National Minorities Cultural Autonomy Act only applies
to Estonian citizens. In the light of the significant number of
non-nationals and stateless persons residing on the territory
of the State party, it believes that such a restrictive and narrow
definition may limit the scope of the State Programme on Integration.
10. With regard to
stateless persons and their children, who are automatically born
stateless, the Committee wishes to have more detailed information
on this specific issue and particularly on the number of stateless
persons who have been naturalized.
11. The Committee
expresses particular concern that the provisions for restricted
immigration quotas established by the 1993 Aliens Act apply to
citizens of most countries in the world, except those of the European
Union, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. It is recommended that
the quota system be applied without discrimination based on race
or ethnic or national origin.
12. Information that
the State party intends to reduce the provision of instruction
in minority languages in the near future, including in areas where
the Russian-speaking population is in the majority, is noted with
concern. The Committee urges the State party to maintain the possibility
for the various ethnic groups of receiving instruction in their
languages or to study those languages at different educational
levels without prejudice to the learning of the official language,
as well as of using their mother tongue in private and in public.
13. Moreover, the
Committee would like to receive detailed information in the State
party's next report on the enjoyment of the Russian-speaking population
of the rights listed in article 5 (d) and (e) of the Convention,
in particular, possibilities for naturalization and for access
to secondary education, employment, medical care and housing
14. The State party
is invited to provide further information in its next report on
the following issues: (a) the work of the Legal Chancellor in
ensuring respect of the Convention; (b) the existence of and measures
to combat organizations of a racist character; (c) the effective
penalties imposed in the case of conviction for acts of racism
or racial discrimination; (d) Estonian birth rate trends, including
separate data on the majority population and on ethnic minorities.
15. The Committee
recommends that the State party ratify the amendments to article
8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992
at the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention.
16. It is noted that
the State party has not made the declaration provided for in article
14 of the Convention, and some members of the Committee request
that the possibility of making such a declaration be considered.
17. The Committee
recommends that the State party's reports be made readily available
to the public from the time they are submitted and that the Committee's
observations on them be similarly publicized.
18. The Committee
recommends that the State party's next periodic report, due on
19 November 2000, be a comprehensive report and that it address
the points raised in the present observations.