The government maintained law enforcement efforts. Sections 133 and 175 of the penal code criminalized sex and labor trafficking. Section 133 criminalized the use of force, fraud, or coercion to induce a person to engage in prostitution, begging, criminal offenses, or other labor and prescribed penalties of one to seven years imprisonment for offenses involving adult victims and three to 15 years imprisonment for those involving child victims. Section 175 criminalized inducing a child to engage in a criminal offense, begging, prostitution, or pornography without requiring a demonstration of force, fraud, or coercion and prescribed penalties of two to 10 years imprisonment. The penalties under both section 133 and 175 were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with the penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In July 2017, the Estonian penal code was amended to criminalize the knowing procurement of commercial sex from trafficking victims.
Police investigated 10 new cases under section 133 in 2017, a decrease from 15 in 2016. Authorities also registered 67 crimes under section 175, compared with 59 in 2016. In 2017, the government prosecuted 16 cases under section 133, an increase from 14 cases in 2016. Authorities also began prosecutions in 57 cases under section 175, an increase from 32 in the previous year. Courts convicted 14 traffickers under section 133 in 2017, an increase from 11 in 2016. All 14 traffickers received prison sentences, which ranged from two to six years. Authorities did not report convicting any traffickers under section 175, compared to eight convictions in 2016. The government continued to provide training for law enforcement officials. Government officials, including labor inspectors, national judges, and prosecutors, participated in international training seminars. The government hosted a two day forum in May 2017 for 100 participants from Nordic and Baltic countries, which supported the Nordic Council of Ministers’ program to combat human trafficking. However, observers noted that defense lawyers and victims’ legal counsel were often not trained on the legislation. Furthermore, while judges would benefit from specialized training, they were not receptive to it. The government reported that two judges participated in training this year. Authorities cooperated in one transnational investigation. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking offenses.