At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu heard the summary of the annual review by Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise. The Chancellor of Justice noted that the range of topics was wide, from taxes, banking and supervision of surveillance to environmental protection, heritage conservation, the rights of children and young people, and the concerns of disabled people.
In her report, Ülle Madise pointed out, among other things, the regulations of cities and municipalities that created problems for people after the administrative reform. She described a situation where, within the boundaries of a large local government formed after the reform, uniform rules of property maintenance had been established, and it had been prohibited for a person who lived several kilometres away from other households to cultivate their garden and dry their laundry outdoors without special permission. The Chancellor of Justice said that a number of situations like that had occurred. She thanked cities and municipalities for correcting such mistakes quickly and without judicial intervention.
Madise said that the agency of the Chancellor of Justice also spoke out when undesired results became apparent in practice in an Act or Resolution, and needed solution. “For example, tax burden increases for a person when they receive their redundancy payment or maternity benefit at the end of the year, or when a family with many children receives a grant from “KredEx” to renovate their housing, and they receive it as a natural person and not through an apartment association,” the Chancellor of Justice brought examples. She expressed the hope that such mistakes would be corrected quickly.
The Chancellor of Justice said that people often asked why officials were indifferent and did not make well-considered and sensible decisions. In Madise’s opinion, the greatest problem is the weakness of the front line of officials. She pointed out that, in offices and inspectorates, schools and hospitals, child protection and care homes, more often than not, specialists did not have a supportive working environment, equitable recognition or a salary consistent with their responsibility. In Madise’s words, a clever, active and decisive person is needed in an office where the official has discretionary power, listens to people’s worries and must make specific decisions under diverse circumstances. The Chancellor of Justice noted that the monthly salary of a front-line official who for example had to identify environmental pollution was currently around 900 euro.
Madise expressed concern about the mindset that everyone could be punished without any proof or justification, without the state having to compensate for the damage in the event of an error. The Chancellor of Justice said that they had therefore stood against the too wide reversed burden of proof in banking, the granting of an almost unrestricted and uncontrolled right to collect data to the prison service, and the intent to sell the health data of Estonian people to agencies abroad. Madise said that, thanks to Riigikogu’s intervention, in several cases plans that had been in conflict with the Constitution in the opinion of the Chancellor of Justice had not been realised.
During the debate, Heljo Pikhof (Social Democratic Party), Mihhail Lotman (Isamaa), Kaja Kallas (Reform Party) and Jaanus Karilaid (Centre Party) took the floor on behalf of factions.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
(The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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