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The Riigikogu passed with 77 votes in favour the Resolution “Use of the Defence Forces in the Performance of the International Duties of the Estonian State in the Composition of the Standing NATO Maritime Group” (377 OE), submitted by the National Defence Committee. The Resolution allows the use of up to 15 members of the Defence Forces in the composition of the Standing NATO Maritime Group SNMG1 in 2013. The members of the Estonian Defence Forces participate in operations on warships belonging to the Federal Republic of Germany. The tasks of the members of the Estonian Defence Forces include, in addition to ordinary team activities involved in navigation, the ensurance of security of ships pursuant to the international mandate of the operations Ocean Shield and Active Endeavour in order to identify ships engaging in piracy. The Resolution enters into force upon signature.

The Minister of Justice Hanno Pevkur made a report to the Riigikogu on the implementation of the aims of “Development Objectives of Criminal Policy until 2018” for 2012. In his report, the Minister of Justice discussed two main principles of the development objectives of the criminal policy: the need to build the criminal policy on high-quality studies and academic knowledge, and engagement of the non-governmental sector in the issues of the criminal policy. Pevkur stressed that it is more effective to combat crime by prevention than by simply by ignoring problems. He added that, therefore, every year, increasingly more academic experts have been involved in the shaping of the criminal policy. As major activities, he mentioned the revision of the Penal Code and the reviewing of the Code of Criminal Procedure with the focus on the fundamental rights of persons. As regards studies, the analytical capacity of the Ministry has been developed and studies have been commissioned from universities. “In summary, this means that the criminal policy is becoming proof-based to the largest possible extent: we must choose and finance the political measures that prove effective and avoid wasting the funds where it has no impact or the impact is even negative,” the Minister said. As an example of engagement, the Minister pointed out the programme of volunteer support persons for persons released from prison which had been launched the previous year and which is organised in cooperation with the Council of Churches, as well as the good cooperation with the Legal Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu.

As the main goal of criminal policy, the Minister of Justice mentioned the continuing effort to reduce crime, that is, to reduce falling victim to crime, crime-related harm, sufferings caused to victims, etc. Pevkur stated that, according to polls, 8% of the people had fallen victim to crime in 2012, while the percentage had been 12 in 2010. The registered crime statistics shows that, in 2012, the number of registered crimes was 4% (40 816 crimes) lower than in 2011 (42 567 crimes), and 29% lower than e.g. in 2003.

The Minister also touched upon the problems relating to the number of prisoners which continues to be one of the highest in Europe, prevention of juvenile delinquency, as well as the development of alcoholism treatment and the implementation thereof in the punishment system.

On behalf of the factions of the Riigikogu, comments were presented by Marika Tuus-Laul, Neeme Suur, Marko Pomerants and Igor Gräzin.

The Resolution on making a proposal to the Government of the Republic (344 OE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was not passed in the Riigikogu. 31 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Resolution, 13 voted against and 1 member abstained. The Resolution did not find the necessary support, as it needed a majority vote of the members of the Riigikogu (51 votes) to be passed.

The first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act (339 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was adjourned due to the end of the working hours of the sitting of the plenary assembly. The deliberation will be resumed tomorrow, on 27 February, at the sitting beginning at 2 p.m.

For more details, read the verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian):

The Riigikogu Press Service