After a thorough discussion, the Constitutional Committee supported the legal amendment by which the temporary borderline between Estonia and Russia can be defined by the Government of the Republic, and which creates the conditions for a better marking, maintenance, and a more efficient guarding.
“A clearer legal status of the borderline creates a good platform for a more efficient border guarding and marking the border in the wilderness, and also creates better conditions for preventing and solving possible incidents,” said the Chairman of the Committee Rait Maruste.
So far, the temporary borderline between Estonia and Russia has been guarded according to the coordinates confirmed in a 2006 directive of the Director General of the Police and Border Guard Board. In legal terms, the directive is an internal document. However, if the borderline is fixed by the Government, work can be carried out to prepare the borderline in the wilderness: i.e. the border strip can be cleared, related disputes solved and alarm guard installed throughout, among other things.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs is of the opinion that the work done to mark the borderline in the wilderness is remarkably useful for improving the efficiency of guarding the external border of the Schengen Area, and will contribute to preventing, detecting and fighting illegal activities at the border.
Members of the Committee did not agree on whether the right to determine the coordinates should be given to the Government or not. Seven members supported this and four were against, preferring to give the right to the parliament under a relevant Act.
“The territory where the state of Estonia is carrying out its constitutional rights should not be determined by the executive power, i.e. the Government,” said Jaak Aaviksoo, a member of the Committee. “This should be the level of the Riigikogu.”
Maruste stated that a regulation of the Government would suffice to determine the borderline. “The coordinates of the borderline, although important, are nevertheless just technical,” he said. “Marking the state border can only take place after a border treaty has been signed between two countries. The parliament is supporting this.”
A provision delegating authority for determining a temporary borderline is contained in the Bill on Amendments to the State Borders Act, the Customs Act and the Police and Border Guard Act (701 SE), which will come to its second reading at the 5 November sitting of the Riigikogu.
The Bill also establishes the possibility for legal and natural persons who provide international carriage of passengers by rail in Estonia to transmit the passenger name records to the Police and Border Guard Board electronically through data communication channels, and to create the possibility to pre-check the lists.
The Bill obligates air carriers to transfer air passenger name record data (PNR data), so that the law enforcement authorities could process this for the purposes of preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting terrorist offences or serious crime. The Bill also gives to customs officials the same rights as to police officers in order to check if the border has been crossed.
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