Justice Ministry working on bill to protect rights of defendants
The Ministry of Justice is working on a bill that would secure the fundamental rights of those under criminal investigation. The central measure is the shortening of initial custody periods.
The law currently states that a person can be taken into custody for a period of up to six months. According to the new bill, expected to take effect in 2016, the custody period will depend on the nature of the crime: for a first category crime, a suspect can be detained for up to two months. For a second category crime, the detention can be one month, the daily Eesti Päevaleht reported.
The periods can subsequently be lengthened by two-month turns, until the respective maximums of six and four months are reached.
Another restriction will be applied to searches of premises. A search warrant can be currently granted by the court, prosecutor or the investigative body. From 2016 onward, the police cannot sign off on their own search warrants even if the case is time sensitive.
The number of such cases is relatively high. Last year, a third of all searches were carried out without a prosecutor's permission as undelayable. The ministry now aims to reduce the number of such searches.