A group of writers, journalists, and academics have issued a joint statement regarding freedom of expression and the use of slander lawsuits against those expressing opinions on the matters of the day.
Filing slander lawsuits against bloggers and journalists for publishing opinions are not new to Iceland. Some journalists have had their livelihoods threatened for their opinions, while some have even been taken to court for printing publicly available information.
In such an environment, a joint statement on freedom of expression in Iceland has been issued by famed writer and poet Sjón, chairperson of the Icelandic Writer’s Association Kristín Steinsdóttir, chairperson of the Association of Non-Fiction and Educational Writers in Iceland Jón Yngvi Jóhannsson, chairperson of the Icelandic Association of Translators and Interpreters Sölvi Björn Sigurðsson, chairperson of the Icelandic Journalists’ Union Hjálmar Jónsson and director of the Society of the Reykjavik Academy Sólveig Ólafsdóttir.
The statement reads as follows:
One of the cornerstones of the Icelandic constitution is the unfettered right of citizens to take part in open discussions on society at meetings, in newspapers, on websites, in visual media and in books.
Every attempt by political parties, agencies, private companies and individuals to silence the writers of opinions that they disagree with – e.g. with an organised efforts against the welfare of the writer, threats of losing employment, or slander which besmirches the writer’s name – is just as well an attack against freedom of expression.
If groups or individuals feel they are being attacked in speech or in written word, they are welcome to respond, now as ever, in the same manner. This is called having a difference of opinion – even a war of words – and is a prized value in democratic societies.