From Iceland — Prime Minister Will Abolish Ethics Board

Prime Minister Will Abolish Ethics Board

Published January 29, 2015

And assign its role to the Prime Ministry itself

Haukur Már Helgason
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And assign its role to the Prime Ministry itself

Sigmundur Davíð

Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has announced his intention to abolish the Administration’s Ethics Board, and proposed the relevant changes to legislation. This was reported by Kjarninn on Wednesday. The board is supposed to be replaced by the Prime Ministry itself, which will provide administrative bodies with guidance for interpretation of ethical codes.

The board was established by law in 2009, in the wake of Iceland’s economic collapse. The board’s members are, according to the law, appointed by the Prime Ministers, for a term of three years at a time. Sigmundur Davíð has not appointed new members to the board after the original board’s mandate ran out in 2013.

Philosophy Professor Jón Ólafsson

Philosophy Professor Jón Ólafsson chaired the board. The Prime Minister’s proposal comes only days after Jón Ólafsson publicly described the 2014 Interior Ministry scandal as the gravest example of corruption in the history of Iceland’s administration.

As pointed out by Kjarninn, the Prime Minister’s proposal also appears merely a week after Alþingi’s ombudsman wrote the Prime Minister a lengthy letter, following his investigation of former Interior Minister Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir’s repeated interferences in a police investigation of her ministry. In the letter to the Prime Minister, the ombudsman proposed changes to ensure proper implementation of ethical codes in government and administration. The ombudsman’s proposals did not, it may seem needless to say, include abolishing the Ethics Board and assigning its role directly to the Ministry itself.

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