The National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) supported by consensus and sent to the first reading a bill that enables to restrict the validity of certain rights and permits issued or applying for certain rights and permits to those who evade military service and training exercises as the obligations arising from the Constitution.
Pursuant to the Bill, it will be possible for the Defence Forces and the Defence Resources Office, in addition to imposing penalty payments and punishments for misdemeanours, to file an action with an administrative court to suspend the validity or the issuing of the right to drive power-driven vehicle, the right to command a recreational craft and personal watercraft, weapon permit, weapon acquisition permit, fishing card and hunting rights. The planned measures are similar to those already in force in regard to maintenance debtors.
According to Chairman of the National Defence Committee Hannes Hanso, the purpose of the Bill is to prevent evading military service duty and ensure that the priorities of national defence would be met. “We have to admit that the existing measures are not adequate for that purpose,” Hanso said.
Hanso added that the new measures would be imposed only by a decision of administrative court, and they would not be implemented on a massive scale, but used mainly against those who evaded military service several times, and in the case of whom other measures, like precepts, fines and penalty payments had given no results. “The main purpose of the measures is preventive, but also disciplining if necessary,” Hanso said. “With them, we show that everybody is equal before the law.”
Member of the Committee Johannes Kert said that he supported the Bill because driving a motor vehicle or a watercraft, owning and handling of firearms, and hunting were activities that required at least the same level of mental stability as military service. “Therefore I do not consider it justified to give those who evade military service because of stress intolerance or other psychic problems the right to pursue such activities in civilian life,” Kert said. He added that the sanctions imposed by the Bill were necessary because military service duty was directly based on the Constitution.
The Committee was told that last year, penalty payment for evading military service had been imposed 1031 times. On the average, the amount of penalty payment was 103 euro. Besides that, 221 misdemeanour proceedings were commenced, where on the average one call-up selectee was imposed a fine of 468 euro.
The National Defence Committee decided to send the Bill on Amendments to the Defence Forces Service Act and Other Acts (607 SE), initiated by the Government, to the first reading at the 2 May plenary sitting, and moved to conclude the first reading of the Bill.
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