Opposition party the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has tabled a bill which would make penalties for sexual offenses against minors more stringent, and also raise the age of consent to 16 years. The current age of consent is 14.
EKRE leader Martin Helme, finance minister in the last administration and the MP who submitted the bill, says the motivation was statistics which show the majority of sexual offenses are committed against minors.
Helme said: "The valid law is clearly too lax and fails to deter pedophiles from abusing children. For instance, under current law, a relationship between a 65-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl or boy would be legal. If it is all consensual, it is permissible from the legal perspective."
Helme added that in the party's view a 14-year-old is not an adult and that pedophile activity should not be allowed to go unpunished.
Raising the age of consent to 16, which would also require that the partner be aged over 21 under the terms of the bill, would be reasonable, he said, pointing out that 16 is the age of consent in several Scandinavian and European countries, as well as in Canada and most U.S. states.
The bill, should it pass, would provide for up to ten years' jail time for the enticement of a minor, who would then be anyone younger than 16, as well as for the production of child pornography. In the case of repeat offenders, the maximum prison sentence under the bill would be 15 years.
A sliding scale would also apply in terms of jail time depending on the age of both offender and victim.
EKRE has 19 seats at the 101-seat Riigikogu, meaning it would have to get sufficient support from other parties' MPs to reach the 51-vote majority for the bill to pass.
Editor: Andrew Whyte