From Iceland — Legal Action Possible Over Police Behaviour At Extreme Chill

Legal Action Possible Over Police Behaviour At Extreme Chill

Published August 11, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Ernir Eyjólfsson

Organisers of the Extreme Chill Music Festival could launch legal action against the reportedly illegal search activities of police last weekend.

A joint statement from the festival organisers to the media accused the police of “holding festivalgoers in a death grip” last weekend, as the police engaged in sweeping and invasive searches of both guests and their tents.

“This year, the police held our festival guests in a death grip from the moment they arrived, and went way over the line as far as we are concerned,” the organisers wrote. “We greeted numerous guests in the festival entrance who were in utter shock, and did not trust themselves to go back to the camping area after the encroachment and abuse of power of the police.”

Police reportedly searched many people bodily, and opened many unmanned tents in the camping area, all without warrants. 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. Much of this activity was reportedly caught on video by festivalgoers.

In light of these events, Extreme Chill announced that they would be having a closed meeting tomorrow at 17:30 for guests “who witnessed or were victims of police violence during the festival”. A lawyer will be present at this meeting to listen to testimony and review any video recordings of events that transpired. They advise private messaging the festival’s Facebook page directly in order to take part.

Civil rights group Snarrótin has also spoken up on the matter, describing the event as “the police mobbing peaceful festival guests”, adding, “may the shame of the police command live long in people’s minds.”

As Grapevine reported last summer, 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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