Estonia may enlarge list of reasons for aliens' expulsion
TALLINN. Jan 3 (Interfax) - Estonia's government gave consideration at a meeting on Thursday to proposed legislation to enlarge the list of reasons for which an alien or a stateless person may be expelled from the country.
Today's law permits expelling and imposing a 10-year entry ban on those who have committed any of so-called "first degree" offenses - crimes such as murder, rape and robbery.
The proposed amendments to this law would extend the category to those who have committed "second degree" offenses - less serious crimes, Justice Minister Rein Lang told reporters after the government meeting.
According to the Russian Embassy in Estonia, there live about 110,000 Russian citizens and about 120,000 stateless persons in the Baltic country, whose total population is estimated at 1.34 million.
The projected amendments would "primarily apply to aliens who have repeatedly broken Estonian laws, for example have committed serious breaches of the peace or crimes against property or have been staying in Estonia illegally," Lang said.
Non-citizens convicted of second degree offenses would be expelled only under exceptional circumstances if they were born and grew up in Estonia. But there would be wider use of the penalty for those who have been resident in the country for less than a year.
Whether a first degree offender will be expelled depends on how serious their crime is, how closely this person is integrated into Estonian society, whether they have any their contacts with a foreign state and how close such contacts are.
"This does not mean that an alien who has an Estonian residence permit and has committed less serious crimes need not fear expulsion from the country," Lang said.
Soon after mass riots by Russian speakers triggered by a Estonian government decision to move a Soviet World War II memorial from the heart of Tallinn to a military cemetery outside the capital, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said his government was considering enlarging the list of reasons for expulsion.