President Kersti Kaljulaid on Wednesday did not promulgate amendments to the Rescue Act and Weapons Act, citing inconsistencies with the Constitution, spokespeople for the president said.
The law was intended to give the database for processing emergency calls in crisis situations the right to receive data from the health information system on whether, where and when medical care or health care services have been provided to a person in that crisis situation.
"In essence, we are talking about asking our crisis helpline - the very same 1247 that is under a heavy burden due to the current crisis - for information on whether a person has been taken to some hospital in the crisis situation, for example," Kaljulaid said.
She pointed out the main shortcoming of the law was that it had not been determined to whom and under what conditions such information could be disclosed via emergency telephone in the future. It has also not been specified how the circle of persons regarding whom this data will be transferred to third parties is determined.
The head of state said: "According to the Constitution, the protection of natural persons in the processing of personal data is one of the fundamental rights and freedoms of people. In the Estonian legal space, the protection of health data, which are included among personal data, has so far been considered particularly important and efforts have always been made to ensure that individuals themselves can decide to the fullest extent possible over the admissibility of the processing of such data."
Kaljulaid added that she has been in contact with the initiators of the law amendment, understands the need to process and issue such information in certain situations and agrees that it may also be reasonable and serve its purpose in certain cases. "However, it must be consistent with the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia," the president added.
Another important reason the head of state pointed out was that the legislator has failed to describe in which cases such transfer of data and disclosure to third parties takes place. Instead, the concept of a crisis situation has been introduced but has not been explained in the legal space.
"While we can intuitively perceive what it is - although, apparently everyone in this space perceives it a little differently - then legally, this concept is not explained, and it has not been done in this law either. Thus, the legislator does not describe in which cases such disclosure will take place. However, according to one of the general principles of our legal space, the legislator must decide matters important from the point of view of fundamental rights themselves and not delegate the corresponding broad decision-making power to the executive power," Kaljulaid said.
For these reasons, the president decided not to promulgate the law passed on April 15 and sent it to the Riigikogu for reconsideration. However, the head of state emphasized once again that she, in essence, understands the need for the law.
"However, if the legislator has a desire to nevertheless create this possibility --and, as I said, it may be a justified and reasonable wish in some situations - it is also possible to bring this law into line with the Constitution. However, determining exactly how to do this and what balancing measures to establish here definitely calls for parliamentary debate," Kaljulaid added.
Editor: Helen Wright