Estonian Interior Ministry to amend rights of detainees

  • 2020-07-27
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Internal rules at Estonian detention houses will be changed by an order of the minister of the interior for the purpose of specifying the rights of detainees.

Minister of the Interior Mart Helme said that the changes to the internal rules of detention houses will update the conditions and organization of detention and resolve a number of problems that have emerged.

"For instance, new restrictions have been laid down to better ensure the protection, health and sense of security of those working and those detained at the facilities. The changes also enable to render the provision of detention service more efficient," he said. The minister added that the rules also had to be brought in accordance with international recommendations and valid laws.

Veiko Kommusaar, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of the Interior for internal security, law enforcement and migration policy, said that key changes to the rules regard the frequency at which parcels can be sent to detainees, the list of items and substances that can be sent and received, and smoking in detention houses.

Arrested persons, deportees and applicants for international protection will have the right to receive one parcel per calendar month weighing up to five kilograms, according to Kommusaar. Added to the list of allowed items will be shower gel, toothpaste, toothbrushes and glasses while tobacco products and matches will be removed from the list.

If needed, the director general of the Police and Border Guard board or their authorized representative can separately decide whether to allow or prohibit various items and substances.

Smoking has thus far been allowed in detention houses only in smoking rooms meeting the relevant requirements. From no on, however, a smoking ban will be introduced in the facilities. 

"Smoking has been prohibited in prisons for nearly three years. With this change, differences in this regard will be eliminated between detention houses and prisons," Kommusaar said.

Among other things, the size of detention rooms will be increased and the option of relocating detainees to other facilities will be created. Detainees will be granted the option of using under supervision legal databases, court registers and the websites of the Riigikogu and the chancellor of justice on computers adapted for this purpose. Until the changes' full entry into effect, detainees are able to acquaint themselves with said materials on paper.

The changes to be made in detention houses predominantly concern the organization of the Police and Border Guard's work.

The ministerial order will enter into force under general procedure.