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Constitution of Estonia (1992, rev. 2003)

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3Preamble

4With unwavering faith and a steadfast will to strengthen and develop the state,

5which is established on the inextinguishable right of the people of Estonia to national self-determination and which was proclaimed on 24 February 1918,

6which is founded on liberty, justice and law,

7which shall protect internal and external peace, and is a pledge to present and future generations for their social progress and welfare,

8which shall guarantee the preservation of the Estonian nation and culture through the ages,

9the people of Estonia, on the basis of Article 1 of the Constitution which entered into force in 1938, and by a referendum held on 28 June 1992, adopted the following Constitution.

10CHAPTER I. GENERAL PROVISIONS

11Article 1

12Estonia is an independent and sovereign democratic republic wherein the supreme power of state is vested in the people.

13The independence and sovereignty of Estonia are timeless and inalienable.

14Article 2

15The land, territorial waters and airspace of the Estonian state are an inseparable and indivisible whole.

16Estonia is politically a unitary state wherein administrative division shall be provided by law.

17Article 3

18The state authority shall be exercised solely pursuant to the Constitution and laws which are in conformity therewith. Generally recognized principles and rules of international law are an inseparable part of the Estonian legal system.

19Laws shall be published in the prescribed manner. Only published laws have obligatory force.

20Article 4

21The activities of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia), the President of the Republic, the Government of the Republic, and the courts shall be organized on the principle of separation and balance of powers.

22Article 5

23The natural wealth and resources of Estonia are national riches which shall be used economically.

24Article 6

25The official language of Estonia is Estonian.

26Article 7

27The national colors of Estonia are blue, black and white. The design of the national flag and the national coat of arms shall be provided by law.

28CHAPTER II. FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, FREEDOMS AND DUTIES

29Article 8

30Every child of whose parents one is an Estonian citizen has the right to Estonian citizenship by birth.

31Everyone who has lost his or her Estonian citizenship as a minor has the right to its resumption.

32No one shall be deprived of Estonian citizenship acquired by birth.

33No one shall be deprived of Estonian citizenship because of his or her beliefs.

34The conditions and procedures for the acquisition, loss and resumption of Estonian citizenship shall be provided by the Citizenship Act.

35Article 9

36The rights, freedoms and duties of each and every person, as set out in the Constitution, shall be equal for Estonian citizens and for citizens of foreign states and stateless persons in Estonia.

37The rights, freedoms and duties set out in the Constitution shall extend to legal persons in so far as this is in accordance with the general aims of legal persons and with the nature of such rights, freedoms and duties.

38Article 10

39The rights, freedoms and duties set out in this Chapter shall not preclude other rights, freedoms and duties which arise from the spirit of the Constitution or are in accordance therewith, and conform to the principles of human dignity and of a state based on social justice, democracy, and the rule of law.

40Article 11

41Rights and freedoms may be restricted only in accordance with the Constitution. Such restrictions must be necessary in a democratic society and shall not distort the nature of the rights and freedoms restricted.

42Article 12

43Everyone is equal before the law. No one shall be discriminated against on the basis of nationality, race, color, sex, language, origin, religion, political or other opinion, property or social status, or on other grounds.

44The incitement of national, racial, religious or political hatred, violence or discrimination shall, by law, be prohibited and punishable. The incitement of hatred, violence or discrimination between social strata shall, by law, also be prohibited and punishable.

45Article 13

46Everyone has the right to the protection of the state and of the law. The Estonian state shall also protect its citizens abroad.

47The law shall protect everyone from the arbitrary exercise of state authority.

48Article 14

49The guarantee of rights and freedoms is the duty of the legislative, executive and judicial powers, and of local governments.

50Article 15

51Everyone whose rights and freedoms are violated has the right of recourse to the courts. Everyone has the right, while his or her case is before the court, to petition for any relevant law, other legislation or procedure to be declared unconstitutional.

52The courts shall observe the Constitution and shall declare unconstitutional any law, other legislation or procedure which violates the rights and freedoms provided by the Constitution or which is otherwise in conflict with the Constitution.

53Article 16

54Everyone has the right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life.

55Article 17

56No one’s honor or good name shall be defamed.

57Article 18

58No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel or degrading treatment or punishment.

59No one shall be subjected to medical or scientific experiments against his or her free will.

60Article 19

61Everyone has the right to freely develop his/her personality.

62Everyone shall honor and consider the rights and freedoms of others, and shall observe the law, in exercising his or her rights and freedoms and in fulfilling his or her duties.

63Article 20

64Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person.

65No one shall be deprived of his or her liberty except in the cases and pursuant to procedure provided by law:

66 1.to execute a conviction or detention ordered by a court;

67 2.in the case of non-compliance with a direction of the court or to ensure the fulfillment of a duty provided by law;

68 3.to combat a criminal or administrative offence, to bring a person who is reasonably suspected of such an offence before a competent state authority, or to prevent his or her escape;

69 4.to place a minor under disciplinary supervision or to bring him or her before a competent state authority to determine whether to impose such supervision;

70 5.to detain a person suffering from an infectious disease, a person of unsound mind, an alcoholic or a drug addict, if such person is dangerous to himself or herself or to others;

71 6.to prevent illegal settlement in Estonia and to expel a person from Estonia or to extradite a person to a foreign state.

72No one shall be deprived of his or her liberty merely on the ground of inability to fulfill a contractual obligation.

73Article 21

74Everyone who is deprived of his or her liberty shall be informed promptly, in a language and manner which he or she understands, of the reason for the deprivation of liberty and of his or her rights, and shall be given the opportunity to notify those closest to him or her. A person suspected of a criminal offence shall also be promptly given the opportunity to choose and confer with counsel. The right of a person suspected of a criminal offence to notify those closest to him or her of the deprivation of liberty may be restricted only in the cases and pursuant to procedure provided by law to combat a criminal offence or in the interests of ascertaining the truth in a criminal procedure.

75No one shall be held in custody for more than forty-eight hours without the specific authorization of a court. The decision of the court shall be promptly communicated to the person in custody in a language and manner which he or she understands.

76Article 22

77No one shall be presumed guilty of a criminal offence until a conviction by a court against him or her enters into force.

78No one has the duty to prove his or her innocence in a criminal procedure.

79No one shall be compelled to testify against himself or herself, or against those closest to him or her.

80Article 23

81No one shall be convicted of an act which did not constitute a criminal offence under the law in force at the time the act was committed.

82No one shall have a more severe punishment imposed on him or her than the one that was applicable at the time the offence was committed. If, subsequent to the commission of an offence, the law provides for a lesser punishment, the lesser punishment shall apply.

83No one shall be prosecuted or punished again for an act of which he or she has been finally convicted or acquitted pursuant to law.

84Article 24

85No one shall be transferred, against his or her free will, from the jurisdiction of the court specified by law to the jurisdiction of another court.

86Everyone has the right to be tried in his or her presence.

87Court sessions shall be public. A court may, in the cases and pursuant to procedure provided by law, declare that a session or a part thereof be held in camera to protect a state or business secret, morals or the private and family life of a person, or where the interests of a minor, a victim, or justice so require.

88Judgment shall be pronounced publicly, except in cases where the interests of a minor, a spouse, or a victim require otherwise.

89Everyone has the right of appeal to a higher court against the judgment in his or her case pursuant to procedure provided by law.

90Article 25

91Everyone has the right to compensation for moral and material damage caused by the unlawful action of any person.

92Article 26

93Everyone has the right to the inviolability of private and family life. State agencies, local governments, and their officials shall not interfere with the private or family life of any person, except in the cases and pursuant to procedure provided by law to protect health, morals, public order, or the rights and freedoms of others, to combat a criminal offence, or to apprehend a criminal offender.

94Article 27

95The family, being fundamental to the preservation and growth of the nation and as the basis of society shall be protected by the state.

96Spouses have equal rights.

97Parents have the right and the duty to raise and care for their children.

98The protection of parents and children shall be provided by law.

99The family has a duty to care for its needy members.

100Article 28

101Everyone has the right to the protection of health.

102An Estonian citizen has the right to state assistance in the case of old age, incapacity for work, loss of a provider, or need. The categories and extent of assistance, and the conditions and procedure for the receipt of assistance shall be provided by law. Citizens of foreign states and stateless persons who are in Estonia have this right equally with Estonian citizens, unless otherwise provided by law.

103The state shall promote voluntary and local government welfare services.

104Families with many children and persons with disabilities shall be under the special care of the state and local governments.

105Article 29

106An Estonian citizen has the right to freely choose his or her area of activity, profession and place of work. Conditions and procedure for the exercise of this right may be provided by law. Citizens of foreign states and stateless persons who are in Estonia have this right equally with Estonian citizens, unless otherwise provided by law.

107No one shall be compelled to perform work or service against his or her free will, except service in the armed forces or alternative service, work to prevent the spread of an infectious disease, work in the case of a natural disaster or a catastrophe, and work which a convict must perform on the basis of and pursuant to procedure established by law.

108The state shall organize vocational training and shall assist persons who seek employment in finding work.

109Working conditions shall be under state supervision.

110Everyone may freely belong to unions and federations of employees and employers. Unions and federations of employees and employers may uphold their rights and lawful interests by means which are not prohibited by law. The conditions and procedure for the exercise of the right to strike shall be provided by law.

111The procedure for resolution of labor disputes shall be provided by law.

112Article 30

113Positions in state agencies and local governments shall be filled by Estonian citizens, on the basis of and pursuant to procedure established by law. These positions may, as an exception, be filled by citizens of foreign states or stateless persons, in accordance with law.

114The right of some categories of state public servants to engage in enterprise and to form commercial associations (Article 31), as well as the right to belong to political parties and some types of non-profit associations (Article 48) may be restricted by law.

115Article 31

116Estonian citizens have the right to engage in enterprise and to form commercial undertakings and unions. Conditions and procedure for the exercise of this right may be provided by law. Citizens of foreign states and stateless persons who are in Estonia have this right equally with Estonian citizens, unless otherwise provided by law.

117Article 32

118The property of every person is inviolable and equally protected. Property may be expropriated without the consent of the owner only in the public interest, in the cases and pursuant to procedure provided by law, and for fair and immediate compensation. Everyone whose property is expropriated without his or her consent has the right of recourse to the courts and to contest the expropriation, the compensation, or the amount thereof.

119Everyone has the right to freely possess, use, and dispose of his or her property. Restrictions shall be provided by law. Property shall not be used contrary to the public interest.

120Classes of property which, in the public interest, may be acquired in Estonia only by Estonian citizens, some categories of legal persons, local governments, or the Estonian state may be provided by law.

121The right of succession is guaranteed.

122Article 33

123The home is inviolable. No one’s dwelling, real or personal property under his or her control, or place of employment shall be forcibly entered or searched, except in the cases and pursuant to procedure provided by law, to protect public order, health or the rights and freedoms of others, to combat a criminal offence, to apprehend a criminal offender, or to ascertain the truth in a criminal procedure.

124Article 34

125Everyone who is legally in Estonia has the right to freedom of movement and to choice of residence. The right to freedom of movement may be restricted in the cases and pursuant to procedure provided by law to protect the rights and freedoms of others, in the interests of national defense, in the case of a natural disaster or a catastrophe, to prevent the spread of an infectious disease, to protect the natural environment, to prevent the leaving of a minor or a person of unsound mind without supervision, or to ensure the administration of a criminal procedure.

126Article 35

127Everyone has the right to leave Estonia. This right may be restricted in the cases and pursuant to procedure provided by law to ensure the administration of court or pre-trial procedure, or to execute a court judgment.

128Article 36

129No Estonian citizen shall be expelled from Estonia or prevented from settling in Estonia.

130No Estonian citizen shall be extradited to a foreign state, except under conditions prescribed by an international treaty and pursuant to procedure provided by such treaty and by law. Extradition shall be decided by the Government of the Republic. Everyone who is under an extradition order has the right to contest the extradition in an Estonian court.

131Every Estonian has the right to settle in Estonia.

132Article 37

133Everyone has the right to education. Education is compulsory for school-age children to the extent specified by law, and shall be free of charge in state and local government general education schools.

134In order to make education accessible, the state and local governments shall maintain the requisite number of educational institutions. Other educational institutions, including private schools, may also be established and maintained pursuant to law.

135Parents shall have the final decision in the choice of education for their children.

136Everyone has the right to receive instruction in Estonian. The language of instruction in national minority educational institutions shall be chosen by the educational institution.

137The provision of education shall be supervised by the state.

138Article 38

139Science and art and their instruction are free.

140Universities and research institutions are autonomous within the restrictions prescribed by law.

141Article 39

142An author has the inalienable right to his or her work. The state shall protect the rights of the author.

143Article 40

144Everyone has freedom of conscience, religion and thought.

145Everyone may freely belong to churches and religious societies. There is no state church.

146Everyone has the freedom to exercise his or her religion, both alone and in community with others, in public or in private, unless this is detrimental to public order, health or morals.

147Article 41

148Everyone has the right to remain faithful to his or her opinions and beliefs. No one shall be compelled to change them.

149Beliefs shall not excuse a violation of the law.

150No one shall bear legal liability because of his or her beliefs.

151Article 42

152State agencies, local governments, and their officials shall not gather or store information about the beliefs of an Estonian citizen against the citizen’s free will.

153Article 43

154Everyone has the right to confidentiality of messages sent or received by him or her by post, telegraph, telephone or other commonly used means. Exceptions may be made by court authorization to combat a criminal offence, or to ascertain the truth in a criminal procedure, in the cases and pursuant to procedure provided by law.

155Article 44

156Everyone has the right to freely obtain information disseminated for public use.

157All state agencies, local governments, and their officials have a duty to provide information about their activities, pursuant to procedure provided by law, to an Estonian citizen at his or her request, except information the disclosure of which is prohibited by law, and information intended exclusively for internal use.

158An Estonian citizen has the right to access information about himself or herself held in state agencies and local governments and in state and local government archives, pursuant to procedure provided by law. This right may be restricted pursuant to law to protect the rights and freedoms of others or the confidentiality of a child’s filiation, and in the interests of combating a criminal offence, apprehending a criminal offender, or ascertaining the truth in a criminal procedure.

159Citizens of foreign states and stateless persons who are in Estonia have the rights specified in paragraphs two and three of this section equally with Estonian citizens, unless otherwise provided by law.

160Article 45

161Everyone has the right to freely disseminate ideas, opinions, beliefs and other information by word, print, picture or other means. This right may be restricted by law to protect public order, morals, and the rights and freedoms, health, honor and good name of others. This right may also be restricted by law for state and local government public servants, to protect a state or business secret or information received in confidence, which has become known to them by reason of their office, and the family and private life of others, as well as in the interests of justice.

162There is no censorship.

163Article 46

164Everyone has the right to address state agencies, local governments, and their officials with memoranda and petitions. The procedure for responding shall be provided by law.

165Article 47

166Everyone has the right, without prior permission, to assemble peacefully and to conduct meetings. This right may be restricted in the cases and pursuant to procedure provided by law to ensure national security, public order, morals, traffic safety, and the safety of participants in a meeting, or to prevent the spread of an infectious disease.

167Article 48

168Everyone has the right to form non-profit associations. Only Estonian citizens may belong to political parties.

169The establishment of organizations and unions which possess weapons, are militarily organized or perform military exercises requires prior permission, for which the conditions and procedure of issuance shall be provided by law.

170Organizations, unions, and political parties whose aims or activities are directed at changing the constitutional order of Estonia by force, or are otherwise in conflict with the law providing for criminal liability, are prohibited.

171Only a court may terminate or suspend the activities of, or fine, an organization, union or political party, for a violation of the law.

172Article 49

173Everyone has the right to preserve his or her national identity.

174Article 50

175National minorities have the right, in the interests of national culture, to establish self-governing agencies under conditions and pursuant to procedure provided by the National Minorities Cultural Autonomy Act.

176Article 51

177Everyone has the right to address state agencies, local governments, and their officials in Estonian and to receive responses in Estonian.

178In localities where at least one-half of the permanent residents belong to a national minority, everyone has the right to also receive responses from state agencies, local governments, and their officials in the language of the national minority.

179Article 52

180The official language of state agencies and local governments shall be Estonian.

181In localities where the language of the majority of the residents is not Estonian, local governments may, to the extent and pursuant to procedure provided by law, use the language of the majority of the permanent residents of the locality as an internal working language.

182The use of foreign languages, including the languages of national minorities, in state agencies and in court and pre-trial procedure shall be provided by law.

183Article 53

184Everyone has a duty to preserve the human and natural environment and to compensate for damage caused to the environment by him or her. The procedure for compensation shall be provided by law.

185Article 54

186An Estonian citizen has a duty to be loyal to the constitutional order and to defend the independence of Estonia.

187If no other means are available, every Estonian citizen has the right to initiate resistance against a forcible change of the constitutional order.

188Article 55

189Citizens of foreign states and stateless persons who are in Estonia have a duty to observe the constitutional order of Estonia.

190CHAPTER III. THE PEOPLE

191Article 56

192The supreme power of state shall be exercised by the people through citizens with the right to vote:

193 1.by electing the Riigikogu;

194 2.through a referendum.

195Article 57

196An Estonian citizen who has attained eighteen years of age has the right to vote.

197An Estonian citizen who has been divested of his or her legal capacity by a court does not have the right to vote.

198Article 58

199Participation in voting may be restricted by law for Estonian citizens who have been convicted by a court and are serving sentences in penal institutions.

200CHAPTER IV. THE RIIGIKOGU

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