Estonian president: Answers needed re confrontation between justmin, prosecutor general

  • 2024-03-18
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonian President Alar Karis said after a meeting with Justice Minister Kalle Laanet and Prosecutor General Andres Parmas on Monday that answers are needed regarding the reasons for and content of their confrontation.

"One of Estonia's strengths is its steadfast adherence to the principles of the rule of law. The public confrontation between the prosecutor general and the minister of justice cannot be called a crisis of the rule of law. However, this case has raised the question of the limits of the independence of the prosecutor's office, which has not been discussed thoroughly enough in Estonia so far," Karis said.

"We must determine how the minister of justice can influence the activities of the prosecutor's office in a rule of law and how to ensure that any intervention is transparent," the head of state added.

"The minister of justice can definitely ask the prosecutor general work-related questions, as well as make suggestions on how to explain the proceedings to the public. But he cannot intervene in specific investigations or give instructions for or against anyone," Karis said. "In Estonia, politicians do not lead the investigations of the prosecutor's office just as prosecutors do not determine politicians' decisions."

According to the head of state, three topics will be important in the near future.

"First, getting answers about the reasons for and content of the Laanet-Parmas confrontation. Secondly, figuring out how to avoid mistrust between the prosecutor's office and the Ministry of Justice, which makes cooperation difficult. And thirdly, there should be an in-depth discussion on the independence of the prosecutor's office, in which representatives of the judicial system, the Bar Association, the justice chancellor's office, the legal affairs committee of the Riigikogu and the Ministry of Justice would participate. This could help make the entire justice system stronger," Karis said.

Minister of Justice Kalle Laanet announced on Wednesday of last week that he has initiated official supervision to check the legality and expediency of the activities of the prosecutor's office. Prosecutor General Andres Parmas has previously said that he considers Laanet's statement about starting disciplinary proceedings against him to be incomprehensible.