Ombud: State giving churches money for occupation damages unconstitutional
According to Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise, the Estonian government's decision last December to allocate nearly €8 million in support to churches lacked legal grounds, and thus the allocation of money to churches sourced from the ownership reform reserve fund was unconstitutional.
Madise submitted a proposal to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) in which she requested that the subclauses of the goverment's regulation according to which money was allocated from the reserve fund be brought into conformity with the Constitution. She also found that allocating money from the ownership reform reserve fund to cover for damages to ownership caused by war and occupation is unconstitutional as well.
On Dec. 14, 2017, the Estonian government added a subclause to the regulation for allocating money from the ownership reform reserve fund according to which it would be possible to allocate money to churches to cover for injustices done to churches during war and occupation. The Chancellor of Justice found that the explanatory letter did not include reasons why churches are being favored in the allocation of support and what injustices were done to these churches in the course of war and occupation.
In addition, according to the law, the government does not have the right to decide who would be allocated money from the ownership reform reserve fund to cover for damage caused by war and occupation, and on what grounds, Madise said. Only the Riigikogu has the right to decide what the fund's money can be used for.
The Estonian government on Dec. 28 decided to support churches operating in Estonia with €8.2 million, €6.8 million of which went to the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) and €1.4 million of which went to the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church (EAOK)
Editor: Aili Vahtla