14 individuals not yet considered legal adults in Iceland have served prison terms in the country since 2006. A lawyer for prison authorities says this does not violate international law.
RÚV reports that 14 underage individuals, six of foreign origin, have served time in prison in Iceland. This includes a 17-year-old currently serving a sentence in Hegningarhúsið (shown above).
This is despite the fact that Iceland signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37b. of which states: “No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”
Erla Kristín Árnadóttir, a lawyer for the Icelandic Prison Service, contends that the imprisonment of these individuals does not constitute a violation of this treaty. Rather, she said, authorities decide whether or not a child convict is best left to child protective services or jail, with prison only being a last resort. All matters are decided on a case-by-case basis, she said.