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Proposed Expansion Of Police Powers Causes Disagreement

Published January 16, 2013

A proposal to expand police powers to purposefully bait child sexual predators on the internet has drawn its share of supporters and critics.
The recent high profile arrest of Karl Vignir Þorsteinsson, who on hidden camera admitted to sexually abusing scores of children over a period of decades, has brought greater attention to the finding, prosecution, and supervision of sex predators in Iceland. Former MP Ágúst Ólafur Ágústsson, who leads a focus group researching the legal response to the sexual abuse of children in Iceland, has proposed among other things that police be permitted to bait sexual predators. For example, a police officer could enter a chatroom pretending to be a minor in the hopes of attracting one.
Vísir now reports that while parliamentary meetings are currently being held over the idea, not everyone is in agreement over how the power, if granted, should be used, or even if it should be granted at all.
One of the strongest supporters of the proposal is Reykjavik Metropolitan Police Commissioner Stefán Eiríksson. He has told members of parliament that the internet is becoming the new stalking ground for those who prey on children, and that the police lack the necessary tools to find and arrest potential offenders. As it is, police do have some powers to bait criminals, but they do not have the power to invent a fictional person, let alone one who could entice someone into committing a crime.
State prosecutor Sigríður Friðjónsdóttir, along with experts in the field of human rights, sexual abuse and child protective services, have voiced worries over such a police power being given. They point out that such a power might lure someone into committing a crime they might not otherwise have committed. Sigríður called the proposal a “tremendous interventionist power”, although she would not rule out its use entirely.
Björgvin G. Sigurðsson, chairperson of the Judicial Affairs and Education Committee, told reporters that he believes “it is necessary to take the step towards” giving the police this power, “although it does bring with it some controversial details.”



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Defence Attorney: Facebook “Likes” Constitute Impartiality

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A lawyer defending former Interior Minister assistant Gísli Freyr Valdórsson has asked the court to remove the prosecutor for “Liking” a news story pertaining to the trial. Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, a former assistant to Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, was charged with breach of confidentiality and relieved of his position last August. He is now on trial in Reykjavík District Court and today, RÚV reports, the defence has offered a unique argument as to why the prosecutor, Helgi Magnús Gunnarsson, is unfit to participate in the trial. Ólafur Garðarsson, Gísli Freyr’s defence attorney, argued in court today that

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A new report from Global Age Watch puts Iceland in 7th place amongst the best countries in the world to grow old. According to the report, Norway is officially the best country in the world to grow older, while Afghanistan is the worst. Iceland has held its position in the top ten due to the life expectancy and financial security, amongst other factors. Icelanders aged 60 years old today can expect to live another 25 years; 17.8 of those in good health. 100% of the population over 65 receives some kind of pension, with only 1.6% living in poverty. In

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Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl’s book Illska (“Evil”) has been chosen to be one of Iceland’s entries for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. Eiríkur shares the nomination with novelist Auður Jónsdóttir for her book, Ósjálfrátt (“Unintended”). Illska also bears the honour of having already won the Icelandic Literary Prize in 2012 and The Book Merchant’s Prize. Illska is a 500+ page novel about Agnes Lukauskas, an Icelander of Lithuanian descent, and her love triangle with Ómar Arnarson and Arnór Þórðarson. The story spans decades, through the height of World War 2, to Iceland’s recognition of Lithuania as a sovereign nation in 1991,

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News In Brief: Late September

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Thousand Litres Of Icelandic Christmas Beer Lost

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A thousand litres of the Christmas beer, Þvörusleikir (named after Icelandic Yule Lad “Spoon Licker”), was poured down the drain at Borg Brugghús in recent days, reports Nútíminn. Árni Long, Borg Brugghús (Borg Brewery’s) master brewer told Nútíminn that he would not distribute a beer he was even a little unsatisfied with. “This is obviously a tragedy for beer enthusiasts like us,” said Árni. “But at the same time it’s something you must learn to tolerate as master brewer for an innovative brewery. These 1.000 litres of Christmas beer simply did not measure up to the standards we set for [our

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