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Self-Incrimination

One of the basic human rights, is the right not be coerced into cooperating with an investigation against yourself, a.k.a. the privilege against self-incrimination, or the right to silence. I believe that Estonia is violating this basic human right in my case.

Yet in spite of this the court decided:

Ringkonnakohus märgib samas, et apellandi viited RAB poolt tema suhtes enese mittesüüstamise privileegi eiramisele ei ole asjakohased, sest O. A. de Voogd ei ole ettekirjutuse mittetäitmise õigustusena nimetatud aspektile tuginenud ega oma sellekohast kartust vastustajale kuidagi põhistanud. PS § 22 lg-s 3 ning EIÕK art 6 lg-tes 1 ja 2 sätestatud nemo tenetur se ipsum accusare põhimõttele, mille kohaselt ei ole keegi kohustatud ennast süüstama, saab isik õiguspäraselt tugineda üksnes siis, kui süüteomenetlust on juba alustatud või on selle alustamine ettenähtav ning kohustatud isik põhistab ohtu, et temalt nõutud teavet või dokumente võidakse kasutada tema enda või tema lähedase süüdimõistmiseks. See tähendab, et seos nõutud teabe või dokumentide ja isiku enda või tema lähedase võimaliku süüteomenetluse vahel ei tohi olla kauge ega hüpoteetiline (nt Euroopa Inimõiguste Kohtu 08.04.2004 otsus asjas Weh vs Austria, avaldus nr 38544/97, p-d 39-46). Seega tuleb kohustatud isikul vaikimisprivileegi kasutamiseks põhjendada, kuidas on tema või tema lähedase suhtes toimuv või võimalik algatatav süüteomenetlus ja isikult küsitav teave omavahel seotud ning seda tuleks põhistada iga küsimuse või esitamisele kuuluva dokumendi puhul eraldi (vrd maksukorralduse seaduse § 64 lg 1 p-de 5 ja 6 rakendamist käsitlev kohtupraktika – nt Tallinna Ringkonnakohtu 02.12.2014 otsus nr 3-13-70180 ja seal viidatud varasemad lahendid).

In short, according to the Estonian court the right to silence only applies when a criminal investigation has officially been started or is foreseeable and the fear is founded. It also claims that the risk cannot be distant or hypothetical.

While I don't believe there is such a requirement at all, and that one may always remain silent and refuse to cooperate when the police is investigating you, in my opinion the court is plainly wrong in coming to the conclusion that it did, even using the court's own criteria. The risk after all is quite foreeseable when a police officer has explicitly said so in an e-mail. There is nothing theoretical or distant about it. The e-mail by Urmas Pai makes that abundantly clear.

The ECHR ruling that the Estonian appeals court refers to (Weh vs Austria) deals with a person refusing to say who drove his car when his car was identified driving over the speed limit. This is an entirely different kind of issue, for which the ECHR chose to make an exception to the right to silence.

My case is a fishing expedition, they have no evidence of any wrongdoing (unlike the speeding car), they want me to supply that evidence. To compare it to a car situation my case would be like requiring a driver to give the police a complete list of all times he or she drove over the speed limit.

Let's assume for a moment that the Estonian court is right. It would mean that police could coerce people into cooperating with an investigation against themselves by simply not officially calling it a criminal investigation, and only officially starting a criminal investigation once the information has been collected (just as they are trying to do in my case.) That would make the entire right to silence effectively meaningless in Estonia.

The court also claims that I have to show for each question how answering it could lead to a criminal investigation being started against myself. This sounds ridiculous, how can you show that answering a question could lead to such an investigation without revealing some information that could be used against you? Besides I have never heard of such a ridiculous requirement to make use of one's right to silence. At least not in Western countries (which Estonia of course is not).

There is an interesting study into ECHR rulings regarding self-incrimination: Self-Incrimination in European Human Rights Law—A Pregnant Pragmatism? Which leads me to believe that, if anything, my case is closer to Funke vs. France, a case that the Estonian appeals court conveniently ignores.

Let us also note that the Estonian constitution says the following, which makes me think this entire sorry story is also in violation of their own constitution:

§ 22. [..]
No one shall be compelled to testify against himself or herself,
or against those closest to him or her.

There is little doubt in my mind that Estonia is violating my basic human rights.

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