Estonia COVID19 response

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Information relayed by Eesti Puuetega Inimeste Koda (EPIK) / the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People

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Information relayed by the Fundamental Rights Agency (May 2020):

In Estonia, according to the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People (Eesti Puuetega Inimeste Koda), the main fundamental rights concern affecting persons with disabilities in relation to the restrictions of the emergency situation is that the government has treated institutions providing special care in the same way as care facilities for the elderly, even though special care clients are of working age. Pursuant to the 3 April 2020 order, people in general and special care homes are prohibited from leaving the territory of their social welfare institution until the end of the emergency situation (with limited exceptions, such as going to the hospital). The order includes nothing on special care clients in community-based living. This lack of clear guidelines has caused confusion, some service providers also began to restrict the freedom of movement of special care clients living in the community. 

The Chancellor of Justice has expressed concern about the amendment to the Code of Civil Procedure and Code of Enforcement Procedure Implementation Act (Tsiviilkohtumenetluse seadustiku ja täitemenetluse seadustiku rakendamise seadus), approved by the Parliament on 20 April 2020, which reduces judicial control over involuntary placement in a psychiatric hospital during the emergency situation. The amendment allows the extension of the term of involuntary placement in a closed institution without complying with the requirement of the patient to be heard. The Chancellor of Justice raised alarm that this may prove unconstitutional. 

The restrictions of the emergency situation impact the funding of civil society organisations, including the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People, which receive financial support from gambling tax receipts. On 9 April 2020, the Ministry of Social Affairs proposed to its partner organisations to review their budgets to see if they could postpone or cancel activities, since gambling tax revenue could be reduced by up to 50%. The Estonian Chamber of Disabled People, which brings together 272 different organisations, expressed concern that cutting already insufficient funding could lead to the demise of many associations. The Ministry of Social Affairs confirmed that the decision to cut the funding has not been made, the aim is to find solutions together with the organisations.