Estonia to transpose 2 EU directives into national legislation

Estonia is to transpose two directives of the European Union into its national law — one on the protection of the Union’s financial interests and the other on the rights of minors who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings.

The government at a sitting on Thursday endorsed a bill amending the Penal Code and relating laws; the amendments will transpose into Estonian national legislation a directive on the protection of the EU’s financial interests and a directive on the procedural safeguards for minors accused or suspected of a crime, government spokespeople said.

The Estonian legislation already complies with both directives; however, certain specifications are required.

The directive on the protection of the European Union’s financial interests obligates member states to impose penalties on natural and legal persons convicted of intentional fraud affecting the EU’s financial interests as well as of other relating crimes.

Pursuant to the directive, the Penal Code will be amended to include the definition of the EU’s financial interests, which in turn will include the assets, revenue and expenses relating to the budget of the EU as well as the budgets managed by the Union bodies.

Another addition to the Penal Code involves extending its validity to crimes affecting the EU’s financial interests committed outside the territory of the state of Estonia.

The Penal Code will also be updated with new constituent elements of crime affecting the EU’s financial interests — procurement fraud and tax fraud. The maximum length of imprisonment imposed on fraudsters and smugglers will be extended from three years to four years.

The maximum length of imprisonment for entering into an agreement for money laundering will be extended from one year to two years, the amendment will also establish liability of legal persons.

The second directive to be transposed into Estonian national law concerns procedural safeguards for minors who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings. The amendment establishes in greater detail the rights of suspected or accused minors.

The most important changes include granting minors who are accused or suspected of a crime the right to an individual assessment and the right to a medical examination to those minors who are to be deprived of liberty. Minors who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings will also have the right to have the holder of parental responsibility informed of and participate in the criminal proceedings. Appropriate questioning techniques, child psychology, and communication in a language adapted to children will need to be used in cases involving minors accused or suspected of a crime.

The deadline for the transposition of the directive on the protection of the European Union’s financial interests into Estonian national legislation is July 6. The directive on the procedural safeguards for minors who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings must be transposed by July 11.

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