From Iceland — New Bill Would Allow Police From Other Countries To Operate In Iceland

New Bill Would Allow Police From Other Countries To Operate In Iceland

Published December 18, 2020

Photo by
Art Bicnick

A new bill from the Minister of Justice would, if passed, allow law enforcement officers from other countries to conduct police work in Iceland, and to carry weapons in the course of their duties. Vísir reports that the introduction of the bill to Parliament raised pointed questions from the opposition.

According to the actual language of the bill, foreign law enforcement would be permitted to operate in Iceland and carry weapons, if ministerial regulations allow. Whether or not any foreign law enforcement would be allowed to operate in Iceland, armed or not, on any given occasion would be decided by the National Police, and the Minister of Justice would have the power to establish regulations to that effect. Any foreign law enforcement working in Iceland would do so under the auspices of a relevant Icelandic police chief. At the same time, Icelandic police will also be permitted to conduct law enforcement in other countries, and to share pertinent data—such as fingerprints and DNA—with law enforcement in other countries and on the international stage.

Pirate Party MP Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir asked Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir in Parliament yesterday what the reasoning was behind this bill, to which the Minister replied, “This is about international cooperation and details that need to be made clearer regarding nations around us. … This is about international cooperation first and foremost.”

Þórhildur Sunna pressed the question, asking for clearer answers on what foreign law enforcement officials in Iceland would be permitted to do, saying, “What can they do? Because according to the language of the bill, at least, it seems possible that the FBI could come here searching for an Icelandic hacker, or German police could show up with their dogs at Seyðisfjörður harbour [where the ferry from Europe lands]. Or that Namibian police could conduct home searches and arrests in Dalvík [where one branch of Samherji is located].”

Áslaug Arna responded by saying, “It’s not going to be like the esteemed member of Parliament describes, that police can just come here and have police power without it being made clear to Icelandic authorities.”

As this is a bill from the Ministry of Justice, its passage into law is highly likely. However, having just entered Parliament for the first round of discussion—three rounds of discussions and passage through relevant committees is still needed—it might not pass until next year.

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