The results of the pan-Estonian online survey “Emergency situation vs. human rights” conducted for the third time this year show that 87% of Estonian residents still believe that everything is alright with human rights and 83% think that the emergency situation restrictions have not breached anyone`s human rights.

Compared to early autumn, 10% of respondents find that their privacy or rights have been breached in social media and 7% think they have breached someone`s human rights themselves. 57% of the respondents believe, similarly to earlier results, that Estonian media follow principles of human rights in their work but 24% think this is not the case and 19% do not know.

In the second half of November, The Estonian Institute of Human Rights commissioned an online survey conducted by Turu-Uuringute AS among slightly more than 1000 Estonian residents. The survey asked people to assess whether the emergency situation has breached people`s rights in Estonia and whether state institutions, the media and the business sector have respected and protected human rights in their work. In addition, people`s perception of whether the Estonian Constitution protects their rights and values and whether the obligations provided in the Constitution matter to people. The previous similar survey was conducted in mid-May and at the end of August this year.  

Summing up the year, we can say that 87% of Estonian residents think that the human rights situation in our country is alright. During the last survey in 2018, 73% (2016 – 68% and 2012 – 54%) were happy with the human rights situation.

“There are no big changes, though things have been complicated since spring, and one would presume with what is taking place is society, that there would be more dissatisfaction, but that is not what the results tell us,” stated the Chairman of the Estonian Institute of Human Rights Vootele Hansen. “The 10% who think human rights are not respected in Estonia are mostly respondents aged 40-49 and similarly to previous surveys, Russian citizens living in Estonia (27%) feel their human rights are not respected.”

Also, people with primary and basic education, unskilled workers and those who work in agriculture, also mostly those who live in Ida-Viru County (16%) and Viljandi County (18%).Again, the respondents were asked whether they feel that they have breached someone`s human rights. 7% of all respondents answered yes to this question, however, 90% were certain that they have not.

In September, the largest age group here was 20-29-year-olds (19%). Now, the 20-29-year-olds have shifted to second place with 13% after 15-19-year-olds. 16% of the age group 15-19 said they believe they have breached someone`s human rights.

An interesting tendency stands out among citizens of Russia of whom 12% believe that they have breached someone`s human rights, 14% of respondents from other larger towns (Tartu, Pärnu, Narva, Kohtla-Järve) and North East Estonia (13%) believe the same.

Proportionally, the results have moved in a positive direction in all groups of respondents over the years.  People`s assessment of whether human rights are respected is heavily influenced by their language of communication, the correlating nationality, level of education and income, social position and to a certain extent, also by place of residence and income.  

83% of all respondents found that the emergency situation restrictions have not breached anyone`s human rights. 14% thought that the emergency situation has breached their human rights.  16% of men compared to 12% of women found that their human rights have been breached during the emergency situation.

Compared to the September results, the dissatisfaction percentage has increased among both men and women, but only by a few percentage points.

The percentage of those who answered yes to the question whether the Estonian Constitution protects their rights and values was 83. 86% of Estonian citizens believe that the Constitution protects them. The confidence percentage has also increased among Russian citizens and people with undetermined citizenship: “Yes” was the answer of  59% (Sept 53%) and 67% (Sept 51%) correspondingly.

It is important for all respondents that the Estonian Constitution outlines not only rights but also obligations. 96% believed it is important to follow the Constitution, 94% to pay taxes and 87% of the respondents find it important to be willing to defend the country`s independence. There are no changes compared to the spring and summer.

10% of all respondents have perceived breach of privacy and rights in social media and the online environment. 85% think they have not experienced it.

Answers to the questions whether the Estonian media has upheld and protected human rights were the following: Estonian language media has done so to the extent of 57% and has not done so 24%, and 29% did not know what to answer to the question. As for Estonia`s Russian- language media, the figures were 33%, 15% and 52% correspondingly.  Compared to earlier results, there were no changes here.

67% of respondents felt that the Estonian Public Broadcasting has upheld human rights in its work the most, and 14% believed the contrary to be true and 19% responded “I do not know“. In case of Estonian private media, the results had risen by a few percentage points (47%) compared to the spring (44%). 19% believed the contrary and 33% were unable to state their opinion.

In case of Estonian print media, 53% said “Yes“ to the same question,  20% answered “No“ and  27% of the respondents answered “I do not know“.

Among Estonians, the support to Estonian media is 68%, and in case of other nationalities, it is 35%.

The respondents believe that over the past three years, human rights have been respected and defended most in the work of the Police and Border Guard Board  (74%), the healthcare system (73%), the Tax and Customs Board (65%). Compared to spring, opinions have slightly declined regarding local municipalities (64%) and  the Government (58%). Trust in the Defence Forces 61%, the legal system (59%), companies based on public capital (48%) and private capital (42%) has remained the same.