From Iceland — Protesters File For Damages Against State

Protesters File For Damages Against State

Published November 7, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Lava Friends

Ten protesters are filing for damages against the Icelandic state for actions police took against them at the Gálgahraun lava field last year.

RÚV reports that the ten protesters are seeking 2 million ISK in damages each for unlawful arrest and deprivation of freedom after they were forcibly removed from a site of construction at the officially protected Gálgahraun lava fields.

They contend they had every right to be at the location, and therefore the police had no right to remove them from the premises. By their accounts, no less than 60 police officers were on the scene, against just around a dozen protesters.

As reported, nine protesters were sentenced last week to pay fines or face jail time for disobeying police orders.

At the same time, the case has already been appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. 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 (who plan to build the road through Gálgahraun) 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.

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