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Committee supports more restrictions for military service evaders

Estonian conscripts at Tapa.
Estonian conscripts at Tapa. Source: (Sander Ilvest)

The Riigikogu's National Defence Committee supported a bill that would make it possible to restrict certain rights and permits of those who evade compulsory military service and training exercises.

The new law would allow the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) and the Defence Resources Office to file an action with an administrative court to suspend the validity or the issuing of the right to drive power-driven vehicle, the right to command a recreational craft and personal watercraft, weapon permit, weapon acquisition permit, fishing card, and hunting rights in addition to imposing penalty payments and punishments for misdemeanours, the Riigikogu's press office said earlier this week.

According to Chairman of the National Defence Committee Hannes Hanso (SDE), the purpose of the bill is to prevent people from dodging military service duty, and ensure that the priorities of national defence are met. “We have to admit that the existing measures aren't adequate,” Hanso was quoted in a press release.

Hanso added that the new measures would be imposed only by a decision of an administrative court. Also, they would not be implemented on a massive scale, but used mainly against those who evaded military service several times, and in cases where other measures, like precepts, fines, and penalty payments, produce no results. “The main purpose of the measures is preventive, but also disciplinary where necessary,” Hanso said.

Member of the Committee and former EDF commander Johannes Kert (Reform) said that he supports the bill, as driving a motor vehicle or a watercraft, the owning and handling of firearms, and hunting are activities that require at least the same level of mental stability as military service.

“I don't consider it justified to give those who evade military service due to stress intolerance or other mental problems the right to pursue such activities in civilian life,” Kert said.

Penalty payments were imposed in 1,031 cases last year. On average the penalty is €103. A total of 221 misdemeanor procedures were initiated as well, with the average fine amounting to €468 across all cases.

The National Defence Committee voted to pass on the bill to the Riigikogu's May 2 plenary sitting, and recommends parliament move to conclude the first reading of the bill.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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