Some Instances

Examining Whether a Legislative Act is Constitutional

  • Based on a citizen’s application, the Chancellor of Justice checked whether a decree by a city council that imposed prices for public transportation tickets that differed in terms of the address registration of the passenger was in compliance with the constitution and the laws. The Chancellor of Justice found that the city council had exceeded the powers stated in the Public Transport Act by offering benefits to residents of specific governmental areas. The Chancellor of Justice sent an amicus curiae brief to the city council, stating that imposing different ticket prices according to address registration violated the constitution. The city council annulled the unconstitutional decree and stopped treating people unequally when offering a public service.

  • ​The Chancellor of Justice inquired on his own initiative as to whether the banning of local election unions was constitutional. After analyzing the ban on election unions provisions in the Local Government Election Act and the Political Parties Act, the Chancellor of Justice issued the opinion that banning election unions was against the constitution. According to him, the banning of election unions disproportionately restricted both active and passive rights to vote. People that didn’t want to join a nationwide political party were basically being deprived of a chance to participate in the political dialogue on local problems. Also, the banning of election unions would prevent sufficient representation of delegate bodies of a local government, because only parties and individual candidates were allowed to run in elections. The Chancellor made a proposal to the Riigikogu to change the provisions that violated the Election Act, so that they would be constitutional. The Riigikogu didn’t follow the suggestion. The Chancellor of Justice submitted an application to the Supreme Court to revise the provisions as unconstitutional and invalid. The Supreme Court accepted the application.

The Procedures of the Ombudsman

  • ​A citizen presented an application to the Chancellor of Justice about the closing of a family medical center in his home rural municipality. The applicant believed that the closing violated his constitutional right to equal access to general medical aid, as now he had to incur great additional expenses when visiting a doctor - to pay for transportation to the nearest town or for a home visit. The Chancellor of Justice decided that, according to the constitution and existing laws, a local government was obliged to provide health care to citizens in such a way that they wouldn't have to make excessive efforts to acquire it. He made proposals to the county governor and the rural municipality government. As a result, the residents were offered free transportation to a family medical center further away. Also, family physicians were offered free living spaces in the rural municipality. An active process began to determine possibilities of covering the expenses of a functioning family medical center and of qualifying and re-opening the general medical center that had been closed.

  • A citizen submitted to the Chancellor of Justice an application asking him to examine the legality of the actions of the police at the finals of the Estonian championship in ice hockey. When the game ended, the police allowed the fans of one team to leave the ice hall, but held up the rival fans temporarily to avoid possible conflicts. The Chancellor of Justice decided that restricting the freedom of movement of groups in such a way at mass events was only acceptable in special cases. The police were not allowed to restrict groups’ freedom of movement in all cases. This measure was allowed only in extreme situations, when other proactive measures, less restrictive to individuals’ rights (such as patrolling with larger forces, escorting groups of fans, and separating troublesome and peaceful fans) had not been or would not be effective. Also, information should be given to the public about applying restrictions to movement, so they could decide to leave before the end of a game or accept temporary restrictions on their freedom of movement. The Estonian police adopted the suggestions as guidelines important to the development of good police practice in Estonia.

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