From Iceland — Replacement For Outgoing Justice Minister Appointed

Replacement For Outgoing Justice Minister Appointed

Published March 15, 2019

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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The Independence Party has retained control over the Ministry of Justice by combining it with the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Innovation—albeit temporarily. As such, Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir is now Minister of Justice, Tourism, Industry and Innovation, RÚV reports.

Þórdís is fairly familiar with the additional post, having worked as an assistant to former Minister of Justice Ólöf Nordal. She takes over replacing Sigríður Á. Andersen, who resigned from the post two days ago in the wake of a scandal brought about by a European Court of Human Rights ruling.

Independence Party chair and Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson told reporters that this is strictly a temporary arrangement in response to an emergency situation.

While Sigríður has intimated that she will return to her post, legal experts have pointed out that there is nothing in Icelandic law that allows a Minister to temporarily vacate their post for an indefinite period of time and then return to it. Indeed, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir has already told reporters that it is “untimely” to even ask if Sigríður will return. Bjarni took a more diplomatic approach to the matter.

“I don’t see it happening next week,” he told reporters. “But later on in the electoral term I could see other changes that may transpire. Whether Sigríður comes back into a government post later on in the term is a matter that I cannot answer now, but I’m open to it.”

As reported, Sigríður resigned in the wake of a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that her appointment of four judges to Iceland’s Court of Appeals in 2017 had been a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a tribunal established by law) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ruling resulted in numerous calls for her resignation, but she was initially adamant that she would not resign. With a vote of no confidence expected against her, she apparently took steps to get ahead of the scandal.

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