From Iceland — Justice Minister Wants to Expand Police Powers Drastically

Justice Minister Wants to Expand Police Powers Drastically

Published August 16, 2010

Minister of Justice Ragna Árnadóttir is seeking to give police the right to search someone’s home even if they are not suspected of committing a crime or even intending to commit a crime. Vísir reports that the minister has assembled a committee to prepare a bill for parliament asking for expressly these powers.
The minister herself admits that the idea is “controversial”, but that “after having received articles, information and files, among other things regarding organized crime in Iceland, I believe that I have no other option but to respond.” She adds that the search warrants would be very specific with regards to what they were looking for.
The focus on organized crime is a telling one, though – last November, the minister assembled a work group to see how the government could increase supervision of foreigners, in the hopes of decreasing organized crime. In a statement from the ministry at the time, they said that they intended to focus their efforts both on foreigners who originate from countries that are allowed freedom of movement in and out of Iceland, and those which require visas to enter. Among the ideas brought up were a temporary passport supervisory authority, as well as an “unofficial” border patrol and domestic supervisory authority. The work group, as reported on Vísir, appeared to be comprised solely of policemen. No foreigners, or groups representing immigrant rights issues in Iceland, appear to have been invited.
If the minister’s bill becomes law, police would have the right to search anyone, anytime, regardless of what they are suspected of having done or will do – if anything.

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