From Iceland — Gálgahraun Case To Go To Human Rights Court

Gálgahraun Case To Go To Human Rights Court

Published October 13, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Lava Friends

Those opposing road construction through the protected Gálgahraun lava fields will be appealing to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to hear their case.

According to a statement from the Icelandic Environment Association (Landvernd), two of the convicted protesters and the environmentalist group Lava Friends have, with the support of Landvernd, filed an appeal against the Icelandic government with the ECHR. Their complaint contends that they were not allowed fair access to submit their case before a court of law, and that their case was unfairly treated by Icelandic authorities.

At the core of the complaint is a Supreme Court decision from November 2013, wherein Lava Friends, Landvernd, the Iceland Nature Conservation Association and the Southwest Iceland Nature Conservation Association had proposed to have their case against The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration heard by EFTA court. The Supreme Court rejected this request, but the complaint calls into question the impartiality of one of the presiding judges, Markús Sigurbjörnsson.

In 2001, Markús was a part of a judicial committee which proposed a number of legislative changes in connection with Iceland’s participation in the Aarhus Convention, of which Iceland is a signatory. This convention gives citizens, amongst other things, that right to participate in environmental decision-making.

A decision from ECHR on whether or not they will hear the case is still pending.

As reported, nine protesters who blocked construction machinery in the officially protected Gálgahraun lava fields last year were sentenced last week to pay fines or face jail time.

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