Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise, appointed for a new term on Wednesday, told ERR in an interview that the aim of the Office of the Chancellor of Justice is to manufacture clarity and reduce the number of conflicts in society. Madise said she does not believe the government is being malicious in laying down restrictions, while mistakes sometimes get made.
You got 63 votes for what could be described as broad-based support. The votes of the coalition and quite a few from the opposition. Did you have to make promises to parties or avoid their red lines for that to happen?
There was nothing special I had to do. Because the vote was secret, we do not know who supported me and who did not. However, I am very grateful, and it inevitably makes one feel good when the president trusts one enough to nominate and the Riigikogu to approve them. I am very grateful to both the president and the parliament. Also my colleagues in the Office of the Chancellor of Justice as it truly is an honor working there.
You did not feel pressured by examples from the past when conflicts with ruling parties have determined whether the justice chancellor remains in office, in addition to the quality of their work?
There was no measure of inner censorship so to speak?
There was not. Besides, the justice chancellor does nothing by themselves neither in-house not to mention in society. We have highly professional advisers, we have agreed on how we go about the work and I believe it has justified itself. This method entails steadfastly working together to achieve what the office of justice chancellor entails. We go about it justly and kindly where possible. We are trying to create clarity instead of more confusion. We know Estonia has enough of the latter. We are trying to minimize the number of conflicts in society instead of manufacturing new ones and maintain a respectful attitude toward all voters, people in Estonia and the politicians who represent them.
Are the current restrictions that the government recently extended until March valid and justified?
Because they are laid down in the form of general orders... that confuses a lot of people because the decisions look like legislation and they believe the justice chancellor can challenge them in the Supreme Court, which we have to explain is, unfortunately, impossible. People who feel their rights have been violated need to turn to administrative court. There are quite a few such disputes already in courts, and it is no longer appropriate for the justice chancellor to say anything once a matter lands in court. More accurately, it is prohibited in most cases.
You said when the pandemic emergency situation began that it is very easy to surrender freedoms and very difficult to have them restored, how has the situation changed by today? Has the threat materialized?
This threat needs to be kept in mind at all times. We are still receiving quite a few complaints. On the one hand, I can explain that I see these things up close – neither the Health Board, the current nor the previous government have had malicious intentions but mistakes get made from time to time. If we notice them, we report it right away. And I am once again talking both about myself and my good colleagues at the Office of the Chancellor of Justice. We do it all the time. Things had not landed in courts when the crisis began and the answers we gave to people had more weight back then. By now, decisions are in the hands of courts.
Editor: Marcus Turovski