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The Constitution of Estonia was adopted on 28 June 1992.

Contents

Composition

Preamble

The Preamble to the Constitution of Estonia reads:

"With unwavering faith and a steadfast will to strengthen and develop the state,
which is established on the inextinguishable right of the people of Estonia to national self-determination and which was proclaimed on 24 February 1918,
which is founded on liberty, justice and law,
which shall protect internal and external peace, and is a pledge to present and future generations for their social progress and welfare,
which shall guarantee the preservation of the Estonian nation, language and culture through the ages,
the people of Estonia, on the basis of § 1 of the Constitution which entered into force in 1938, and by a referendum held on 28 June 1992, adopted the following Constitution." [1]

Chapter 1: General Provisions

The first chapter of the Constitution addresses the nation's general provisions. It contains seven articles.

Article 1 states that Estonia is an independent and sovereign state. It is a democratic republic. Article 1 also states that Estonian sovereignty and independence do not time out and cannot be terminated.

Article 2, which pertains to territory, states that all the territories of Estonia are indivisible and part of a unitary state.

Article 3, which addresses law, states that the government will exercise its power based only on the Constitution.

Article 4 mandates that the Parliament, the Government, the President and the courts must all be separate and balanced.

Article 5 dictates that the natural resources of Estonia must be used sparingly.

Article 6 sets the official language of Estonia as Estonian.

Article 7 sets Estonia's national colors as blue, black, and white: the three colors on the flag.

Chapter 2: Fundamental Rights, Liberties, and Duties

The second chapter of the Constitution of Estonia discusses the people's rights, liberties, and duties.

Article 8 pertains to citizenship. It states that any child with one Estonian parent will have the right to Estonian citizenship. Further, no person with Estonian citizenship at birth will be deprived of their citizenship. Anyone who loses their citizenship before adulthood will have the chance to restore it. No one may lose their Estonian citizenship because of their beliefs.

Article 9 addresses the nation's subjects. It states that foreigners in Estonia will have the same Constitutional rights as citizens of Estonia.

Article 10 pertains to other rights. It states that the rights included in Chapter 2 cannot overpower rights pertaining to human dignity, social justice, and law.

Article 11 sets limitations. It states that liberties may be restricted only as set out in the Constitution.

Article 12 deals with discrimination. It states that no one will be discriminated against because of their nationality, race, color, gender, language, creed, origin, political opinions or financial and social status. It goes on to forbid the propagation of hatred, discrimination or violence based on any of the aforementioned criteria.

Article 13 promises the right to protection to citizens and foreign visitors.

Article 14 states that the guarantee of rights is the shared responsibility of the local government, legislative powers, judicial powers and executive powers.

Article 15 addresses accessibility of courts. It states that every person has the right to appeal before a court of law if their rights have been violated. The courts must rule by the Constitution and declare any law that violates the rights set down in the Constitution unconstitutional.

Article 16 declares that every person has the right to life, and life must not be taken.

Article 17 states that every person's honor must be protected.

Article 18 forbids torture and involuntary scientific experiments.

Article 19 gives every person the right to self-realization and mandates that every person must respect the rights of others and observe the law.

Article 20 addresses personal freedoms. It states that no one can be deprived of his or her liberty aside from several situations. These are:

  • the execution of a sentence or warrant issued by a court;
  • to ensure the fulfillment of obligations determined by a court of law;
  • to prevent a criminal act or escape;
  • to arrange for a juvenile's supervision;
  • to place persons who are a danger to themselves in custody;
  • to prevent illegal settlement.

Article 21 deals with custody and arrest. It states that anyone arrested will be notified promptly of the reason for arrest and given the opportunity to notify any family about the arrest. It also forbids anyone to be held in custody for more than 48 hours unless permission is granted by a court.

Article 22 pertains to presumption of innocence and self incrimination. It states that no one may be held guilty until a guilty verdict has been issued and that no one will be required to prove their innocence. It also states that no one will be required to give testimony against themselves or close family.

Article 23 deals with trial. It states that no one can be proclaimed guilty of an act that did not constitute a crime at the time of the incident. Additionally, a person cannot be given a more severe sentence for a crime than the sentence dictated by law at the time of the crime. No one may be tried twice for an offense that he or she has previously been acquitted or convicted for.

(Article 23's prohibition against trying a person twice has sometimes been compared to United States' constitution's double jeopardy clause. However, as an important distinction, Estonian constitution does not prohibit a criminal prosecutor from appealing a decision to acquit, and such appeals are sometimes performed.)

Article 24 protects the right to a fair trial. It states that no one may be involuntarily moved from the jurisdiction of one court to that of another. Everyone must be given the right to be present at their trial. Court hearings must be held in public unless state secrets, business secrets or private matters discussed. Juveniles can request a closed trial. Verdicts must be public unless a juvenile, spouse, or victim request otherwise. Everyone must have the right to appeal to a higher court.

Article 25 mandates that everyone has the right to compensation for any injuries (moral or material) caused by another's unlawful actions.

Article 26 preserves the privacy of family life. However, this privacy may be interfered with in the case of protection of public health, order, arrest of a criminal, prevention of crime and protection of others' rights.

Article 27 contains laws pertaining to the family. It states that the family structure will be protected by the state. It dictates that spouses have equal rights must care for their children. The family must care for its dependent individuals.

Article 28 deals with welfare. It states that everyone must have access to health care. It also allows families with many children or disabled children to receive special care from authorities.

Article 29 provides professional rights. It states that each Estonian citizen has the right to choose a profession to his or her liking and that no one will be forced to perform a service other than in the case of military service, prevention of disease, or after a natural disaster. Service may be forced upon criminals as part of a sentence (but forced labour sentences permitted by this article has not been prescribed by any post-1991 penal law). The state will help those who are looking for work. Working conditions will be supervised by the state, and employers as well as employees may join unions.

Article 30 pertains to public office. It states that positions in government will be filled by Estonian citizens. In exceptional cases, foreign citizens and stateless persons may fill government positions. Some civil servants may be prohibited by law from engaging in commercial activities, forming for-profit organizations, joining certain political parties and some non-profit organizations.

Article 31 grants Estonians the right to do business. (This right is mainly explicit to set Estonia apart from pre-perestroika Soviet rule which harshly punished most forms of business.)

Article 32 describes the rights of Estonians to own and manage property. It dictates that no property may be expropriated without the owner's consent. Everyone can own and manage property unless it is used against the public interest. Inheritance is guaranteed.

Article 33 protects the home as inviolable. Homes may, however, be forcibly entered in cases of the protection of public health, the rights of others, to capture a criminal or prevent a crime.

Article 34 gives all persons legally inside Estonia the right to movement. This right can be restricted in accordance with laws for the protection of others, in the best interests of national defense, in the event of a natural disaster, to prevent the spread of diseases, to protect the environment, to avoid leaving a dependent person unsupervised, or to further criminal proceedings.

Article 35 grants the right for any person to leave Estonia. This right may be restricted if the individual wishing to leave must attend a trial or serve a judgement.

Article 36 prevents any Estonian citizen's deportation. It also states that Estonian citizens must be allowed to settle in Estonia. Citizens may be deported in cases prescribed by a treaty. Extradition is decided by the Government of the Republic.

Article 37 lays out the rights of education. It states that every person has the right to receive an education. Education is required for school age children and must be free, though private educational institutions may also be established.

Article 38 requires that education of science and the arts must exist freely.

Article 39 states that the state will protect intellectual property and authors have inalienable rights to their works.

Article 40 promises the freedom of religion. Religious practices are not to be restricted. There is no state church.

Article 41 promises the freedom of belief. This article protects the right of every person to have his or her own opinion. No one may be punished because of his or her opinions.

Article 42 states that every person has the right to privacy of belief and religion. It forbids government authorities at all levels to store information about any person's religion or beliefs.

Article 43 protects the right to private communication. Exceptions can be made if authorized by a court of law to establish evidence or prevent a crime.

Article 44 pertains to the right to information. It states that governments and authorities must provide information about their work, unless the information is prohibited by law to be divulged. Estonian citizens, stateless persons and people of foreign citizenship also have the right to view any information the state holds about them, unless it violates the right to privacy of another person or may compromise a criminal trial.

Article 45 provides the right to freedom of speech. It states that every person has the right to share their ideas using any medium. Censorship is forbidden. However, this right may be restricted to protect the rights, health, reputation, and honor of others, or to protect state secrets.

Article 46 gives every person in Estonia the right to petition their governmental representatives.

Article 47 promises the right to assemble. It states that any person has the right to peacefully assemble unless national security, traffic safety, public health, morals, or order is compromised.

Article 48 sets the guidelines for the right to associate. It states that every person in Estonia has the right to form non-profit organizations. Associations or political groups of any kind that wish to use violence to invoke change are prohibited. Associations and political parties may be suspended or penalized by a court of law. Only Estonian citizens may join a political party.

Article 49 states that every person in Estonia has the right to preserve their ethnic identity.

Article 50 states that ethnic minorities may establish self-government in accordance with the Law on Cultural Autonomy for Ethnic Minorities.

Article 51 pertains to the right to administrative assistance. It states that every person in Estonia has the right to speak with an official in Estonian and receive an answer in the same language. Additionally, in areas where half or more of the residents are of the same ethnic minority, they have the right to receive answers from authorities in that minority's language.

Article 52 sets the official language of Estonia. It states that the official language of Estonia is Estonian, but in localities wherein the majority of the population speaks a language other than Estonian, the authorities of the local government must speak the language of the majority.

Article 53 requires every person to preserve the human and natural environments.

Article 54 pertains to loyalty and the right to resistance. It states that every Estonian citizen must be loyal to the government of Estonia described in the Constitution. Every Estonian citizen must also defend the nation's freedom. Estonian citizens also have the right to take action against any forcible change in government.

Article 55 states that foreigners and stateless persons within Estonia must respect and abide by the Estonian Constitution and government.

Chapter 3: The People

Chapter 3 addresses the people of Estonia.

Article 56 gives Estonian citizens the right to participate in government by electing the Parliament and participating in Referendums.

Article 57 pertains to the right to vote. It states that every Estonian citizen aged eighteen and older has the right to vote, unless he or she is declared incompetent by a court of law.

Article 58 states that the right to participating in elections may be restricted for Estonian citizens serving a sentence for a crime.

Chapter 4: The Parliament (Riigikogu)

Chapter 4 deals with the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu).

Article 59 gives legislative power to the Parliament.

Article 60 pertains to membership in Parliament. It states that Parliament must contain 101 members elected in free elections. Elections will be held every four years on the first Sunday of March. Any citizen 21 years of age or older with the right to vote can be a candidate for election to Parliament. The election procedures are determined by the Law on Parliament Elections.

Article 61 states that the authority of the elected members of Parliament begins on the day of the announcement of the election results. Prior to beginning their duties, each member of Parliament must take an oath of office affirming his or her loyalty to the government and Constitution of Estonia.

Article 62 gives each member of Parliament a free mandate. It states that no member of Parliament will be held to his or her mandate. Additionally, no member of Parliament will be held legally responsible for political statements or votes made in Parliament.

Article 63 states that no member of Parliament can serve in another office during his or her service in Parliament. (A member of Parliament elect can, however, be released from service in the Parliament to serve in the Estonian military, if he so chooses.)

Article 64 pertains to the suspension and termination of the power of members in Parliament. It states that the authority of a member of Parliament will be suspended during an appointment as a member of the government and resumed following the release. The authority of a member of Parliament can be terminated for several reasons, including:

  • the member in question assumes another political office;
  • the member in question is declared guilty by a court of law and must serve a sentence;
  • the member in question resigns;
  • the member in question is declared by the Supreme Court to be incapable of performing his or her duties;
  • the member in question dies.

If a member of Parliament is suspended or his or her term terminated, an alternate member will take his or her place and assume all of the duties of a member of the Parliament. The authority of this alternate will be terminated if the member resumes authority.

Article 65 designates the sixteen functions of Parliament[2].

Article 66 states that the first session of Parliament must occur within ten days of the announcement of the election results. The President will convene the first session.

Article 67 states that regular sessions of Parliament will occur from the second Monday of January until the third Thursday of June. After a recess, the regular sessions resume and last from the second Monday of September until the third Thursday of December, whereupon there is another break until the second Monday of January.

Article 68 states that extraordinary sessions will be convened by the Speaker of the Parliament on the requestof the President, the government, or one fifth of the Parliament.

Article 69 states that the Parliament will elect a Speaker of the Parliament and two Deputy Speakers from its own ranks. These officials will direct the work of the Parliament.

Article 70 states that the quorum of the Parliament must be determined by the Law on the Parliament By-Laws.

Article 71 states that the Parliament will establish committees and members of Parliament have the right to form factions.

Article 72 pertains to publicity of the Parliament. It states that Parliament sessions must be public unless two-thirds of the Parliament votes otherwise. Voting in Parliament must be public. If votes are being cast for an election or appointment, however, voting will be done by secret ballot.

Article 73 states that legal acts in Parliament must be adopted only with a majority of "yes" votes.

Article 74 gives Parliament the right to request explanations from Estonian governmental officials. These requests must be fulfilled within twenty session days.

Article 75 states that the restrictions on income for Parliament must be amended only for the next complement of Parliamentary members.

Article 76 gives members of the Parliament immunity from criminal charges unless the Chancellor of Justice and majority of members of Parliament agree to bring the charges.

Chapter 5: The President of the Republic

Chapter 5 pertains to the President of Estonia and his or her duties, responsibilities, and rights.

Article 77 states that the President of Estonia is the Head of State.

Article 78 lists the twenty functions of the President of Estonia [2].

Article 79 describes the election of the President. The President of Estonia will be elected by secret ballot. Each member of Parliament receives one vote. The President must be elected by a two-thirds majority. If he is not elected by the third round of voting, an electoral body will be formed within one month. This electoral body will be made up of the Parliament and one Estonian citizen appointed by each local government council. The two candidates who received the most Parliamentary votes for President will be presented to the electoral body.

Article 80 states that a Presidential term is 5 years. No person can be elected to the position of the President of Estonia more than twice in a row.

Article 81 provides the oath that the new President must swear before taking office. In it, he promises to defend the Constitution, exercise his power justly, and fulfil his duties to the benefit of the nation and the people.

Article 82 provides four circumstances in which the Presidency can be terminated:

  1. Resignation from office
  2. Conviction of an offense
  3. Death
  4. End of term(s)

Article 83 describes the procedure to be taken if the President is unable to perform his or her duties. If the President is unable to perform his or her duties for three months or less, the Speaker of Parliament takes the President's office and relinquishes his or her duties as Speaker. The Speaker will not have the ability to declare early elections or refuse laws unless permission is given by the Supreme Court. If the President will be unable to perform his or her duties for more than three months, the Parliament must elect a new President within 14 days.

Article 84 states that upon assuming the Presidency, the President relinquishes all of his or her other official positions. He or she must also suspend membership in any political party.

Article 85 states that the President may only be charged with a criminal offense by a proposal of the Chancellor of Justice or consent of a majority of the Parliament.

Chapter 6: The Government of the Republic

Chapter 6 addresses the Government of the Republic of Estonia and its rights and duties.

Article 86 states that executive power is held by the Government of the Republic.

Article 87 lists the nine functions of the Government of the Republic[3 ].

Article 88 states that the Government of the Republic is made up of the Prime Minister and other Ministers.

Article 89 describes the nomination of the Prime minister. Fourteen days after the Government of the Republic resigns, the President must nominate a candidate for Prime Minister. The nominee must appear before Parliament within fourteen days. The Parliament will decide whether to give the individual the power to form a government. If confirmed, the nominee must present the composition of a government to the President within seven days. The President will appoint the government within three days. If the President's nominee fails to be confirmed by Parliament, chooses to abstain or does not meet the seven day time limit for the composition, Parliament will nominate a Prime Minister.

Article 90 states that changes to the Government of the Republic can only be made by the President of the Republic after a proposal by the Prime Minister.

Article 91 dictates that the officials in the government must swear an oath of office before assuming their duties.

Article 92 describes the resignation of the Government of the Republic. The Government of the Republic must resign when the new Parliament convenes, the Prime Minister dies, or if the Parliament expresses a complete lack of confidence in the Government of the Republic or the Prime Minister.

Article 93 states that the functions of the Prime Minister are to represent and direct the work of the Government of the Republic. The Prime Minister must also appoint two Ministers to fill his or her place in the case of absence. The procedure for this substitution is determined by the Prime Minister.

Article 94 describes Ministries. Ministers will head Ministries, which execute particular functions. The Minister issues directives. If a Minister is unable to do his or her duties, the Prime Minister will appoint another Minister until the first Minister is able to resume his or her duties.

Article 95 pertains to the State Chancellery. It states that the State Chancellery is part of the Government of the Republic and headed by the State Secretary. The Secretary will be appointed by the Prime Minister and have the same duties to the State Chancellery as a Minister has to a Ministry.

Article 96 deals with sessios of the Government of the Republic. It states that sessions of the Government of the Republic will be closed unless a majority of the Government chooses otherwise. The Government will make decisions during its sessions on proposals of the Prime Minister and other Ministers. Ordinances must be signed by the Prime Minister, affected Minister, and State Secretary.

Article 97 describes the vote of no confidence and its procedures. The Parliament can express no confidence in the Prime Minister, Government of the Republic, or other Minister. At least one fifth of the Parliament must express this vote and it must be submitted as a written motion. The vote may not come up for resolution sooner than two days after its submission. If no confidence is expressed in the Prime Minister or Government, the President may call for early elections within three days. If no confidence is expressed in a Minister, the Minister will be recalled from office by the President. An expression of no confidence may only be reinitiated after three months.

Article 98 states that the Government may link the adoption of a draft presented to Parliament with the expression of no confidence. Voting on the draft must take place two days or more following the linking of the draft. If the draft is rejected, the Government must resign.

Article 99 states that members of the Government of the Republic cannot hold other public offices or belong to the council or be within the leadership of any commercial enterprise.

Article 100 states that members of the Government may participate and speak in sessions of Parliament and Parliamentary committees.

Article 101 grants members of the Government of the Republic immunity to criminal charges except on the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice, and with the consent of the majority of the membership of the Riigikogu. If a guilty verdict is reached, the affected member will lose his or her authority.

Chapter 7: Legislation

Chapter 7 addresses the legislation of the Republic of Estonia.

Article 102 dictates that laws must be adopted in accordance with the Constitution.

Article 103 distributes the right to initiate laws. Members of Parliament, factions of Parliament, Parliament committees, and the Government of the Republic can initiate laws. The President may initiate amendments to the Constitution. The Parliament may adopt a resolution by a majority and propose that the Government of the Republic initiate a draft on the resolution.

Article 104 lists the laws that may only be changed or adopted by Parliament[3 ].

Article 105 addresses referendums. It states that Parliament has the right to put any national issues to a referendum. The people's decision will then be determined by the majority, and any law declared by the referendum will be immediately put into effect. If the legislation or national issue fails to receive a majority of "yes" votes, early elections will be declared for Parliament.

Article 106 addresses financial laws. It states that any issue or legislation related to the financial obligations of the Republic, taxes, budget, the ending of a state emergency or the ratification of treaties may not be put to a referendum. Any procedures for referendums are determined by the Referendum Law.

Article 107 deals with the proclamation of laws. It states that the President of the Republic will proclaim new laws. The President additionally has the right to refuse to proclaim a law and return it to the Parliament with reasoning within fourteen days of receiving it. If the Parliament adopts the law returned by the President, the President must proclaim the law or propose to the Supreme Court that the law is unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court declares the law constitutional, the President must proclaim the law.

Article 108 states that a law will be in effect on the tenth day following its publication in the National Gazette.

Article 109 addresses Presidential edicts. It states that if the Parliament cannot convene, the President has the right to issue edicts bearing the force of law. These edicts must be co-signed by the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Parliament. When the Parliament reconvenes, it will immediately adopt a law confirming or repealing these edicts.

Article 110 states that laws affecting the budget or taxes can not be changed by Presidential edicts.

Chapter 8: Finance and the National Budget

Chapter 8 addresses financial issues and the budget of the Republic of Estonia.

Estonian 50 senti coins (2004)

Article 111 states that the Bank of Estonia has the unique right to issue currency, organize the circulation of currency, and promote the stability of national currency.

Article 112 states that the Bank of Estonia must operate according to the law. It must also report to Parliament.

Article 113 states that state taxes, levies, penalties, fees, and insurance payments are determined by law.

Article 114 states that the control, command, and use of national assets are dictated by law.

Article 115 describes the state budget. It states that the Parliament will adopt a budget for state income and expenses annually. The Government of the Republic must present a draft of the budget to Parliament within three months of the beginning of the financial year. The Parliament may adopt a supplemental budget during the financial year, proposed by the Government.

Article 116 addresses amendments to the state budget. It states that any proposed amendment to the budget must be accompanied by financial calculations and sources of income to cover any proposed expenditures. The Parliament is forbidden to reduce or eliminate expenditures prescribed by other laws.

Article 117 states that the procedures for any preparation or adoptions of budget are determined by law.

Article 118 states that the national budget adopted by Parliament will be in effect at the beginning of the financial year. If, however, the Parliament has not adopted a budget by the beginning of the financial year, expenditures each month can be up to one twelfth of the previous year's budget.

Article 119 states that if Parliament fails to adopt a national budget within the first two months of the beginning of the financial year, the President must declare early elections for Parliament.

Chapter 9: Foreign Relations and Treaties

Chapter 9 addresses international relations and treaties.

Article 120 states that procedures for relations between the Republic of Estonia and other states and international organizations are determined by law.

Article 121 gives Parliament the power to ratify or denounce treaties if they:

  • amend borders,
  • require the adoption, amendment, or annulment of the laws of the Republic,
  • cause Estonia to join international leagues or organizations,
  • cause Estonia to assume military or asset obligations, or
  • require ratification.
Estonia

Article 122 states that the land borders of Estonia will be determined by the Tartu Peace Treaty signed on February 2, 1920. The sea and air borders will be determined by international conventions. Two-thirds of Parliament is mandatory for the ratification of treaties amending Estonian borders.

Article 123 restricts treaties. It states that Estonia must not conclude treaties that conflict with the Constitution. However, if Estonian laws or acts are in conflict with treaties ratified by Parliament, the articles of the treaty will be applied.

Chapter 10: National Defense

Chapter 10 addresses Estonia's national defense.

Article 124 describes duty to the military. It states that citizens of Estonia must participate in national defense in accordance with procedures determined by law. Those who refuse to serve in a military position will participate in alternate services. Unless the law determines otherwise, persons in the Defense Forces and alternate services have all constitutional rights and obligations. The legal status of these persons will be determined by law.

Article 125 states that persons in active service cannot hold appointed or elected office. Persons in active service cannot participate in the activities of political parties.

Article 126 states that the national defense organizations will be organized in accordance with the law. The organization of national defense is determined by the Wartime National Defense Law as well as the Peacetime National Defense Law.

Article 127 names the President as the supreme commander of the national defense. The National Defense Council serves as an advisory board to the President. The defense forces will be headed by the Commander of the Defense Forces during peacetimes, but by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces during war. The Commander-in-Chief is appointed and recalled by the Parliament on the President's proposal.

Article 128 states that the Parliament will declare a state of war on the President's proposal. The Parliament will order military mobilization and de-mobilization. It will also determine whether the defense forces should be used for the international obligations of the Republic. If aggression is directed against the Republic, the President has the right to appoint a Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces, declare war and mobilization without waiting for a resolution.

Article 129 states that if there is a threat to the constitutional form of government, the Parliament may declare a state of emergency with a duration of no more thant three months. The Parliament may only declare a state of emergency on the President's proposal, or a proposal made by a majority of the Government of the Republic. Regulations for a state of emergency are determined by law.

Article 130 states that during a state of war or a state of emergency, rights may be restricted. Obligations may be placed upon any person in the interest of national security and order in accordance with the law. However, the rights determined in Articles 5, 8, 9, 11-18, 20, 22-24, 27, 28, 36, 40, 51, and 51 may not be restricted.

Article 131 states that during a state of war or a state of emergency, no elections will be held for the Parliament, the President of the Republic or the representatives of local government. Additionally, the authority of these parties cannot be terminated. If the terms of any of these parties are set to end during the state of emergency or war, the terms will be extended.

Chapter 11: The State Audit Office

Chapter 11 pertains to the State Audit Office.

Article 132 states that the State Audit Office will be an independent institution that bears responsibility for the economy.

Article 133 lists the four functions of the State Audit Office. They are:

  1. To supervise the activity of state enterprises, institutions and other organizations;
  2. To supervise the use and preservation of national assets;
  3. To supervise the use and control of national assets that have been transferred to local governments’ jurisdiction;
  4. To supervise the economic activities of enterprises in which the state has over half of the votes as determined by shares or stocks, or whose contracts or loans are guaranteed by the state.

Article 134 states that the State Audit Office will be headed by the Auditor-General. The Auditor-General is elected and recalled by the Parliament on the President’s proposal. The Auditor-General’s term lasts five years.

Article 135 states that the Auditor-General must present the Parliament with an annual report on the preservation and use of national assets during the preceding budget year. The presentation of this report coincides with the debate in Parliament pertaining to the next year’s budget.

Article 136 states that the Auditor-General will have the right to participate and speak in sessions of the Government of the Republic. The Auditor-General will have the same rights in heading the State Audit Office as a Minister has in his or her Ministry.

Article 137 states that law will determine the organization of the State Audit Office.

Article 138 states that the Auditor-General may only be charged with a crime on the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice, with the consent of the majority of Parliament.

Chapter 12: The Chancellor of Justice

Chapter 12 pertains to the rights, functions, and appointment of the Chancellor of Justice.

Article 139 states that the Chancellor of Justice will be an independent official supervising the legal acts of the legislative, executive, and local governments. The Chancellor of Justice will also analyze any proposals made to him or her for amending legislation and adopting new laws, and presenting any necessary reports to the Parliament. If necessary (see Articles 53, 76, 85, 101, and 138), the Chancellor of Justice will also propose to Parliament to bring criminal charges against members of Parliament, the President of the Republic, members of the Government of the Republic, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a Justice of the Supreme Court, or the Auditor-General.

Article 140 states that Parliament will appoint the Chancellor of Justice to a term of seven years on a proposal from the President. The Chancellor of Justice may only be removed from his or her position by a decision of the Supreme Court.

Article 141 states that the Chancellor of Justice will have the same rights in his or her office as a Minister has in his or her Ministry. The Chancellor of Justice also has the right to participate and speak in sessions of Parliament and sessions of the Government of the Republic.

Article 142 states that if any body of government that adopts a law or act in conflict with existing laws or the Constitution, the Chancellor of Justice has the right to propose to that body that the law be amended within twenty days. If the act or law is not amended suitably within twenty days, the Chancellor of Justice will apply to the Supreme Court to declare the law or act invalid.

Article 143 mandates that the Chancellor of Justice presents an annual report to the Parliament.

Article 144 states that the legal status of the Chancellor of Justice as well as the organization of the Chancellor’s office will be determined by the law.

Article 145 grants the Chancellor of Justice immunity from being charged with a crime unless the President proposes it to the Parliament, and the majority of the Parliament is in favor.

Chapter 13: The Courts

Chapter 13 pertains to the courts.

Article 146 states that only the courts, which will be independent and administer justice in accordance with the law and the Constitution, will administer justice.

Article 147 outlines the term of each judge in the court system. It states that judges will be appointed for life. Judges may be removed from office only by a court judgment and may not hold other elected or appointed positions except in cases prescribed by law. Law will determine the legal status and independence of judges.

Article 148 states that the court system will be composed of county, city, and administrative courts, district courts and the Supreme Court. The law will determine the creation of special courts. The establishment of emergency courts is prohibited.

Article 149 outlines the court instances. County, city, and administrative courts will be first instance courts. District courts will serve as second instance courts and will examine the decisions of the first instance courts. The Supreme Court is the highest court. It is also the court of constitutional review. It also reviews the first and second instance court judgments by way of cassation proceedings. Rules of court procedure are established by law.

Article 150 states that the Parliament will appoint the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on proposal of the President. The Parliament will appoint Justices of the Supreme Court on the proposal of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The President will appoint other judges on the proposal of the Supreme Court.

Article 151 states that the law will determine the organization of representation, defense, state prosecution and supervision of legality in court procedures.

Article 152 states that if any legal act or law is in conflict with the Constitution, courts will not apply it. The Supreme Court will declare legal acts and laws conflicting with the Constitution null and void.

Article 153 states that a judge can only be charged with a crime on proposal of the Supreme Court and with the President’s consent. The Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court may only be carged for a criminal offense on the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice with a majority of Parliament consent.

Chapter 14: Local Governments

Chapter 14 pertains to local governments in Estonia.

Article 154 states that all local issues will be resolved and regulated by local government. Obligations may only be imposed on local governments in accordance with law or with the local government’s agreement. Expenditures related to these obligations will be covered by the national budget.

Article 155 states that the units of local government include rural municipalities and cities. Other units may be formed in accordance with the law.

Article 156 states that the representative body of a local government is the council which shall be elected in free elections for a term of four years. The period of authority of a council may be shortened by an Act due to a merger or division of local governments or the inability of the council to act. The elections shall be general, uniform and direct. Voting shall be secret. In elections to local government councils, persons who reside permanently in the territory of the local government and have attained eighteen years of age have the right to vote, under conditions prescribed by law.

Article 157 states that local governments will have independent budgets. Local governments also have the right, based on the law, to impose and collect taxes and fees.

Article 158 states that the borders of local government units cannot be altered without taking into consideration the opinions of the affected government units.

Article 159 states that local government units will have the right to form leagues and joint institutions with other local governments.

Article 160 states that the law will determine the organization and supervision of local government.

Chapter 15: Amending the Constitution

Chapter 15 pertains to amending the Constitution.

Article 161 states that the right to initiate amendments to the Constitution rests with one fifth of the Parliament and with the President.

Article 162 states that Chapter 1 and Chapter 15 may only be amended by referendum.

Article 163 states that the Constitution may be amended by a law adopted by referendum, two successive complements of Parliament, or the Parliament in matters of urgency. The draft of a law to amend the Constitution will be read and considered by the Parliament three times. The first and second readings must be at least three months apart, and the interval between the second and third readings must last at least one month. A decision may be reached with the third reading.

Article 164 states that to put an amendment to the Constitution to referendum, the approval of three fifths of Parliament is mandatory. The referendum will be held no less than three months after such a resolution.

Article 165 states that to amend the Constitution by the majority of two successive complements of Parliament, a three-fifths majority is mandatory.

Article 166 states that a proposal to consider a proposed amendment to the Constitution as a matter of urgency must be adopted by a four-fifths majority of Parliament. In such a case, the law to amend the Constitution must be adopted by two-thirds of Parliament.

Article 167 states that the law to amend the Constitution will be declared by the President of the Republic and take effect on the date determined by the law, but no earlier than three months after its proclamation.

Article 168 states that multiple amendments to the Constitution dealing with the same topic may not be reintroduced within one year following rejection by referendum or Parliament.

Fifteenth anniversary

For the Constitution's fifteenth anniversary celebrations, A. Le Coq produced a new brand of beer, the Constitutional Pilsener (Estonian: Põhiseaduse Pilsner) in cooperation with Estonian Ministry of Justice.[4]

References

  1. ^ Tulemused - Tekstid
  2. ^ a b Eesti Õiguskeele Keskuse kodulehekülg
  3. ^ a b ICL - Estonia - Constitution
  4. ^ Postimees 9 August 2007: Lang: õlu paneb rahva põhiseadusest huvituma

External links








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