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At the Riigikogu sitting, the Minister of Justice Hanno Pevkur made the report “Implementation of “Development Objectives of Criminal Policy until 2018” in 2013“. He noted that, as a result of the revision of penal law which had taken nearly three years of toil and labour, a Bill had been born which had reached the parliament. The Draft Code of Misdemeanour Procedure had also reached the Riigikogu by the end of 2013. “Also, in 2013, we made amendments to the Punishment Register Act which put an end to the situation where punishments could remain in force for decades while the person committed new criminal offences when the punishment was valid.” 

Pevkur presented statistical figures according to which, for the first time, the number of registered crimes dropped below 40 000 last year. 39 631 crimes were registered in 2013 which is 3% less than in 2012, and 31% less than 10 years ago. A victim study conducted by the Ministry of Justice, the Eurobarometer and a social study conducted by Statistics Estonia also confirm that the security of people has improved and they have a stronger feeling of security. 

Pevkur explained that combating juvenile delinquency is the first priority of criminal policy. The level of juvenile delinquency has been stable in recent years. Although there are no serious problems in Estonia with, for example, gangs and large-scale public disorders organised by young people, the situation can be significantly improved. Pevkur asked rhetorically who is responsible for dealing with risk children when the family, ordinary school and local government can no longer cope with them. Differently from many other countries, in Estonia, this task rests primarily with special schools and juvenile committees. At the same time, the new Child Protection Bill contains a proposal to increase the role of the social system in assisting such children. The national child protection system will emerge next to the local government and the child protection system. So, after some time, the state will deal with the same children and families parallely in the educational as well as the social system. Time will tell if such an approach justifies itself, Pevkur said. For example, at our northern neighbours, the ministry of social affairs and the ministry of education together are responsible for special schools. In Pevkur’s opinion, it could be considered to link juvenile committees with the national child protection system in order that the system would indeed be harmonised and functioning. 

Pevkur noted that, in order to ensure timely and effective resolution of cases of crimes, we will have to gather local social and child protection officials, police officers, prosecutors, victim support officials, health care professionals, shelters for women and, in cases involving children, also education workers under a common “thinking cap” and action plan. For that purpose, the first network for combating family violence which engages in pursuing of cases and supporting the victims in a better targeted manner had been created in Pärnu county in 2013 under the leadership of the Ministry of Justice and in cooperation of several agencies. Although specialists dealing with victims and perpetrators of violence stand for the same cause, an impulse had been needed to help them understand the importance of day-to-day cooperation. The project team had gathered specialists to act more clearly for a common goal and helped them understand who are their main partners and what is the function of each participant in resolving cases. Similar networks are planned to be established all over Estonia in the future. 

When speaking of corruption, Pevkur noted that 2013 had been a special year. He recalled that the new Anti-Corruption Act had entered into force in spring which is considerably more substantive than the previous version. For example, the Act is applicable, with restrictions aimed at avoiding a conflict of interest, to all who perform public duties in any manner. So it will no longer be possible to hide behind a legal format or legislative gap to conclude transactions with the colouring of conflict of interests. 

Marko Pomerants, Igor Gräzin and Peeter Võsa took the floor during the debate. 

The Riigikogu approved with 88 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Packaging Act (568 SE), initiated by the Government, which transposes the relevant European Union directive on packaging and packaging waste. The illustrative examples for defining packaging bring clarity and uniform understanding of defining a product as packaging in the EU. 

The Riigikogu Press Service