Child Welfare Systems and Migrant Children: A Cross Country Study of Policies and Practice

By Marit Skivenes; Ravinder Barn et al. | Go to book overview

12
IMMIGRANT CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN THE
ESTONIAN CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM

Merle Linno and Judit Strömpl


INTRODUCTION

In September 1991, soon after the emancipation from the Soviet Union, the young independent Republic of Estonia adopted its first international law: the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The first law accepted by the Estonian Parliament was the Child Protection Act (CPA; 1992, entered into force in on January 1, 1993). Children seemed to be the first priority of the emancipated Estonian Republic. Unfortunately, these first efforts to act in the best interests of children were not so easy to follow. The duties connected with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child were executed with difficulties.1

In the process of “restoring” (a term used at that time) the independent national state, other priorities became more important. Nation-state and ethnicity have essential importance in the Estonian context. This is the reason ethnic origin is more important than immigrant background of the population in Estonia.2 In fact, the categorization of people is done on the basis of their ethnic belonging (Estonians vs non-Estonians); however, behind ethnic belonging, people’s immigrant past is emphasized. Thus we use the terms interchangeably in this chapter.

In the early 1990s, one of the most important situations Estonia had to deal with was the demographic situation, which was the result of the Soviet colonization policy. One-third of population formed a group of people who had entered Estonia during the time of the Soviet regime. Estonia had to both integrate and

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