From Iceland — Prisoners' Advocacy Group Issues Statement On Prison Reporting

Prisoners’ Advocacy Group Issues Statement On Prison Reporting

Published September 29, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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Afstaða, the Association for Betterment, has released a statement in response to a news story we reported on an ongoing incident at the Litla-Hraun prison.

As reported, RÚV had originally stated a prison guard had repeatedly called a prisoner a “jerk”, prompting the prisoner to release a formal complaint and the Parliamentary Ombudsman to send a request to the Minister of the Interior to examine the matter.

Afstaða has issued the following statement, which corrects some details of the original story and sheds more light on the incident:

“AFSTADA, the society of prisoners and other interested parties on better prison policies and prisoner betterment, would like to correct few things from the original story, published by RÚV, The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

“In Iceland prisoners are able to elect representatives to carry out important matters on their behalf to the prison authorities. Already in 2005 this was seen as an important step by the Althingi-parliament as a tool for cooperation for working together towards ‘betterment’ – not punishment.

“It is misleading when reporting about the Parliamentarian Ombudsman issuing a case between a ‘prisoner’ and a ‘prison guard’ – when in fact it is a matter of Deputy-Warden screaming ‘fucking jerk’, among others, to the Prisoners Representative when he was carrying out an errand to the authorities.

“It is also important factor that this is, unfortunately, not an isolated case and must be a shock to the Minister of Interior as the government always need to be able to count on their officers, when serving as law enforcement or prison guards, as the citizens – and those temporarily incarcerated – need to be able to rely on the officers’ credibility and judgments.

“Therefore, police education in Scandinavia, and in Iceland, is on university level – as these societies are very well aware of the importance for officers to use their heads/brains instead of force. Maybe we should demand the same from our prison officers!”

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