The motion of no confidence in the Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu, submitted by 47 members of the Riigikogu, was not supported in the Riigikogu today. 46 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion of no confidence, nobody was against and there were no abstentions. The support of at least 51 members of the Riigikogu was needed to express no confidence.
The initiators justified the motion of no confidence by referring to the statement by the Minister of Justice “I condemned violence against women, but now, in the light of today’s letter, I actually regret that statement.”.
In the opinion of the representatives of the motion of no confidence, the Minister of Justice is responsible for reducing violence and cannot regret having spoken against violence. “Nor can he or she be disdainful to public statements on an issue that is so painful for the society and for many people personally. And he or she cannot think that he or she has not hurt anyone when public dissatisfaction arises. Word is an important weapon in combating violence, and the word of the Minister of Justice has a special weight because it also shapes legal policy,” the initiators found.
The explanatory memorandum stresses that criticism both from the opposition, the coalition and the public should mean voluntary resignation as far as Estonian political culture is concerned. “As that did not happen, we consider it necessary to express our distrust of Urmas Reinsalu on a wider scale than the particular case, and this also concerns his activity over a longer period of time. We decided to leave it for the plenary assembly of the Riigikogu to discuss, because, as in the coalition, so, too, among the initiators of the motion, opinions on every political choice, including those by Urmas Reinsalu, do not fully coincide. However, we are of one mind that, instead of creating clarity and order, he creates confusion, and does not shun from crumbling the legal continuity of Estonia, for that matter,” the initiators of the motion noted.
The motion to express no confidence was deliberated at today’s sitting at the Government’s request.
Minister Reinsalu gave explanations on the reproaches addressed to him in the motion of no confidence and answered questions from members of the Riigikogu. “The unfortunate wording of my statement last week left many with an impression as if I did not consider combating interpersonal violence important. I assure you: this is not the case,” Reinsalu said.
Reinsalu expressed his positions regarding combating violence. He said that violence could never be a solution to complicated human relationships, or a cultural norm, and there was no justification for violence in any relationships. Referring to the convention on violence against women, Reinsalu noted that violence directed against children or committed in the presence of children had to be regarded as particularly deplorable, condemnable and punishable. The minister also stated that a person who has fallen victim of domestic violence must never remain alone.
Representatives of factions who took the floor during the debate presented their positions on the motion of no confidence which noted that the Minister of Justice was not supposed to make evaluative comments already by virtue of his or her office.
Artur Talvik (Estonian Free Party) pointed out as a reason for joining the expression of no confidence the fact that the work of the Minister of Justice had had no results. Kalle Laanet (Reform Party) expressed the opinion that the minister had broken trust. Martin Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) also expressed support to the motion to express no confidence on behalf of the faction.
Toomas Jürgenstein (Social Democratic Party) said that it was obvious that the minister’s regret at having condemned violence against women had to have been an error. Jaanus Karilaid (Centre Party) pointed out that the opposition was not united and he expressed a hope that the political culture would make progress.
Helir-Valdor Seeder (Pro Patria and Res Publica Union) said that there was too much insincere substitutive activity in the session hall and in his words the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction supported minister Urmas Reinsalu.
Two Bills also passed the first reading in the Riigikogu today:
The Bill on Amendments to the Emergency Act, the Taxation Act and the National Defence Duties Act (571 SE), initiated by the Government, will create preconditions for the establishment and implementation of the Government Regulation “Formation of additional employments with national defence work obligation at providers of vital services, and the procedure for drawing up and amending the list, and for submission of data” in a manner that is the least possibly burdensome for businesses.
The Ministry of Defence has drafted a package of Bills that describes the assignment of employments with national defence work obligation in the businesses providing vital services, and provides for the procedure for keeping records thereof.
The National Defence Act provides that, during the increased defence readiness or a state of war, it is possible for the state to implement the national defence work obligation in posts of employment that as a rule are related to the national defence tasks, internal security and constitutional order or ensuring a vital service. An employment with national defence work obligation entails work obligation before the employer, and such a person is exempt from mobilisation.
Under the current procedure, the national defence work obligation is implemented only in the public sector, and there is no implementing act that would enable posts with national defence work obligation to be assigned in businesses designated as providers of vital services (under the Emergency Act).
According to the Bills that have been prepared, the authorities organising vital services will coordinate with the Ministry of Defence the number of employments with national defence work obligation in the businesses providing vital services, and will enter notations regarding the relevant personnel of the businesses to the employment register. Also, the register of civil assets will maintain records of the relevant employers.
The Bill on Amendments to the National Defence Duties Act (572 SE), initiated by the Government, will establish the procedure for imposition of and compliance with national defence duties for completion of national defence tasks during increased defence readiness, mobilisation, demobilisation or a state of war. As on the basis of the analyses made in the national defence law revision, in the opinion of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Defence, amendment of the legislation relating to the organisation of duties is an extensive and time-consuming process, the amendment of the National Defence Duties Act will be carried out in two stages. At present, the primary amendments for imposition of national defence duties and preparation for compliance therewith that are important particularly in terms of the organisation of military national defence will be made. In the second stage, more thorough amendments will be made within the framework of the national defence law revision (2017–2019).
The Bill will specify the legal relations of administrative authorities and persons in the organisation of the imposition of and compliance with national defence duties in the current National Defence Duties Act.
Under the Bill, the property inevitably necessary for the provision of a vital service will be included in the list of property that is not subject to expropriation. It is property of providers of vital services that they inevitably need to ensure continuous operation of the service during a crisis.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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