From Iceland — Police Reportedly Overstep Bounds At Music Festival

Police Reportedly Overstep Bounds At Music Festival

Published August 10, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Ernir Eyjólfsson

Police engaged in illegal or questionable search and seizure tactics at last weekend’s Extreme Chill Festival, according to separate eyewitness accounts. In all, RÚV reports, 29 drug related arrests were made at the festival, which around 200 people attended over the weekend.

“There were no fights, no rapes, everyone was behaving themselves,” an attendee of the Extreme Chill Music Festival, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Grapevine. “But the police were seriously crossing the line.”

The eyewitness told Grapevine that police were searching every attendee they could, asking if they could search their bags and their pockets. Most people complied, not knowing that the police actually cannot search your person without a warrant (see below). Later, they went into the camping area and began searching peoples’ tents, which is also illegal without a warrant.

“At that point, about 20 people confronted the police and started yelling at them,” the eyewitness said. “The cops must have known they were doing something they shouldn’t be, or maybe they didn’t feel like dealing with it, because they left.”

This testimony is corroborated by Extreme Chill organiser Pan Thorarensen, who told DV that he found the police’s behaviour “completely out of bounds,” adding that many guests had recorded videos of it as it happened.

Another festivalgoer told DV that a bus was stopped by the police on its way to the festival. All the foreigners were reportedly ordered off of the bus, while the Icelanders were made to stay and subjected to questioning and searches by the police.

Grapevine’s eyewitness said they attempted to speak to one officer, described as “an older woman who was clearly in charge”. The officer in question reportedly refused to disclose her name or her badge number to the eyewitness.

“It was such a beautiful event apart from the cops,” they told us. “It was like they were attacking love and music. My heart was broken.”

Were you at Extreme Chill Music Festival? Did you record police activities at the festival? Contact us at!


As Grapevine reported last summer, civil rights group Snarrótin has been trying since last summer to inform festival goers of their rights when confronted by the police. Below are the basic rights you should have in mind in such a situation:

1. You always have the right to talk to an attorney. If you cannot afford or do not have your own attorney, you can ask the police officer questioning you to contact the Icelandic Bar Association, which has lawyers available 24 hours a day.

2. Unless the police have a court order or a search warrant, the police cannot search you, your backpack or purse, your phone, your car or your home, nor may they search your mail.

3. The only exception to needing a search warrant is for the police officer to have a “reasonable suspicion” that you are in possession of a specific item. The three conditions for such a search are that a) it is necessary to seize the item in question, b) the police have a reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed, and c) the aforementioned crime is one that could result in jail time.

4. Body cavity searches may only be conducted with the approval of a doctor.

5. Article 65 of the Icelandic constitution states that “[e]veryone shall be equal before the law and enjoy human rights irrespective of sex, religion, opinion, national origin, race, colour, property, birth or other status. Men and women shall enjoy equal rights in all respects.”

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