From Iceland — Police Mistaken On Child Abuse Case

Police Mistaken On Child Abuse Case

Published September 21, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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The police have declined to prosecute a case of child abuse at a local playschool, and the Ombudsman for Children says this is based on a legal misunderstanding.

As reported, the playschool Leikskólinn 101 was shut down in August 2013 after video evidence of child abuse reached city authorities. RÚV reports that one of the parents of the children at the playschool filed criminal charges, but the police declined to investigate the matter.

The reasoning for this was because the child in question was spanked and, in a response from the police, they did not feel this caused “physical or emotional damage” to the child. Police referred to the Law on Child Protection to back up their decision, but it seems they are not aware that the law has changed, as they were citing an older version.

As the Ombudsman for Children points out in a statement on their webpage, the older version of the law was challenged in the Supreme Court and subsequently changed in 2009. Whereas before, child abuse charges rested upon showing that physical or emotional damage was done to the child, the current law states that physical or emotional punishment of a child is unacceptable under any circumstances.

“We went over all the documents related to the case, saw that the case was dropped by both the police and the State Prosecutor, and we just disagree with their conclusions,” Margrét María Sigurðardóttir, the Ombudsman for Children, told reporters. “Children have the right to be protected against any kind of violence. There are witnesses, amongst other things, which show that violence took place [at the playschool].”

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