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The Riigikogu passed (52 votes in favour, 34 against) the Courts Act Amendment Act  (114 SE), initiated by the Government, which provides liquidation of Viru Circuit Court as of 1 October 2008. Viru County Court is subordinated to Tartu Circuit Court. Reorganisation was claimed to be justified by inefficiency of Viru Circuit Court: due to a difference in the work load, the cost of the adjudication of a matter in Viru Circuit Court is higher by 53 per cent for the state, as compared to Tallinn Circuit Court. According to the information of the initiator, the number of civil matters which have not been adjudicated has soared in the moderately loaded Viru Circuit Court whereas Tallinn Circuit Court with its notably heavier work load has seen no rise in the number of matters which have not been adjudicated in recent years and, as regards administrative matters, it has even gone down by 44 per cent during the years 2004–2006.

The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of three Bills: 

The Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (166 SE), initiated by the Government, provides tightened punishments relating to crimes against computer system. According to the Bill, unlawful disturbing or hindering of the functioning of a computer system by entering, forwarding, deleting, damaging, modifying or blocking data is punishable by a pecuniary punishment or three to five years’ imprisonment (in replacement of the currently applicable one year to three years’ imprisonment). The same categories of punishment are established for spreading of spyware, malware and computer viruses. The Bill is going to be put to a final vote at the sitting on Thursday. 

The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the State Borders Act, and the Law of Ship Flag and Registers of Ships Act (160 SE), initiated by the Government, is to curb the activities of ships entered in the list of ships engaging in illegal, unnotified or unregulated fishing operations, by prohibiting fishing vessels engaging in illegal fishing operations to enter in ports and the chartering of such ships, precluding the right to fly the flag of Estonia for such ships and prohibiting assisting of such ships. The amendments established by the Bill arise from the corresponding Regulation of the Council of the European Union and are based on international agreements concluded. 

The Bill on Amendments to the Aliens Act and the State Fees Act (183 SE), initiated by the Government, amends the provisions concerning importation of labour force. Among other things, the Bill increases the immigration quota to 0.1 per cent of the permanent population of Estonia instead of 0.05 per cent, which will allow an estimated import of up to 1300 specialists annually. The Bill establishes the obligation for employers to pay the salary which is at least equal to the average annual wages in Estonia multiplied by the factor 1.24 to employees recruited from outside of Estonia. In the opinion of the initiator, this will contribute to the restriction of the import of cheap labour force and ensure the situation in which employers are preferably interested in hiring employees who have a higher qualification. The Bill cuts the period of searching established for the Labour Market Board down to three weeks instead of two months and prescribes fingerprinting of applicants for visa and applicants for extension of the period of stay, arising from the corresponding Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council. 

On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the Riigikogu suspended the second reading of the Equal Treatment Bill (67 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that everyone is protected against discrimination on the grounds of race, nationality, colour, religion or beliefs, age, disability or sexual orientation. The Bill proposes that an equal treatment commissioner be appointed to office for five years by the Minister of Social Affairs. 

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of two Bills: 

The Bill on Amendments to the Food Act (191 SE), initiated by the Government, introduces additional items into the list of the food for particular nutritional uses which fall under the requirement that Veterinary and Food Board be notified of placing of such food on the market. Food for particular nutritional uses prescribed for medical reasons and infant formula are added. Notification of placing of infant formulae on the market is required with the intention of allowing supervisory agencies to have better overview of products placed on the market, with a view to enhancing supervision. 

The Bill on Amendments to § 1028 of the Aliens Act (173 SE), initiated by the Government, provides the possibility for school students who are third-country nationals residing in the European Union to participate in school trips without visa. 

At Question Time, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts answered the question about privatisation of port operations, submitted by Kalev Kallo, and the question about Estonian Post, submitted by Arvo Sarapuu. The Minister of Justice Rein Lang answered the question about civil control, submitted by Karel Rüütli, and the question about the Family Law Act, submitted by Marika Tuus. The Minister of Regional Affairs Siim-Valmar Kiisler answered the questions about regional policy, submitted by Jaak Aab and Jaanus Marrandi. 

The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) is available at: https://www.riigikogu.ee/?op=steno 

The Riigikogu Press Service 

 

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