State Of Human Rights In Iceland Questioned - The Reykjavik Grapevine

State Of Human Rights In Iceland Questioned

Published February 15, 2012

Numerous countries on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council found room for improvement in Iceland in the area of human rights.
The report (link to English version in .pdf format at the bottom) was made public on Monday, and lists numerous aspects of Icelandic society where human rights could be improved.
“It was safe to say that the human rights situation in Iceland was reasonably good. However, there was room for improvement and Iceland would not shy away from any constructive criticism,” the report states.
Among these areas for improvement, the report says, are:

Iceland is in the process of ratifying the European Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. Also, the Government Agency for Child Protection operated The Children’s House, which has become a model internationally for a child-friendly justice environment. It has also contributed to more numerous complaints, prosecutions and convictions for acts of sexual violence against children. However, preventive measures have not been sufficiently systematic but the Minister of the Interior indicated that he has placed particular focus on ensuring improvement in that area, in cooperation with other ministries.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland noted that Iceland had signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but that it had not yet been ratified. It also noted that gender inequality still existed in the areas of pay gap and women in leadership roles. The United Kingdom found worrying the statistic that in 2009 over half the population believed racial discrimination to be common. It raised concerns about the absence of a public authority to monitor violence and sexual abuse against children and welcomed the decision to build a new prison facility.
Ghana noted … the concern by the Committee on the Rights of the Child about the high drop-out rate of immigrant children. It also noted the 16 per cent gender pay gap, as indicated in the national report.
The United States remained concerned by gender pay gap and gender-based violence.
Australia … expressed concern that there was no definition of racial discrimination in Icelandic legislation. It was also concerned about reports of incarceration of juveniles and adults and of pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners in the same cells. Finally, Australia expressed concern about lenient sentences in cases of domestic violence, which acted as a disincentive to women who reported violent crimes to the authorities.
The Islamic Republic of Iran expressed its concern over a number of human rights issues in Iceland, including racism and xenophobia, sexual violence and abuse of children, domestic violence, ethnic-based social inequalities, and the existence of substandard jails. It inquired about the root causes of these issues and concrete measures taken by the Iceland to address them.
Finland noted that lack of adequate resources in the prison system resulted in detainees having to wait to serve their sentences. It indicated that the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) had observed that some prisons did not conform to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
Germany noted concerns relating to prison conditions and regarding the lack of separation between juvenile and adult prisoners, men and women prisoners and pretrial and convicted prisoners. It requested information regarding measures taken to abolish these precarious conditions.

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