From Iceland — 23 People Awarded Damages For Protestor Police Report

23 People Awarded Damages For Protestor Police Report

Published January 29, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Hörður Sveinsson

23 people were awarded damages for a 2014 police report on some of the people who attended the protests against the government following the financial collapse of autumn 2008, Fréttablaðið reports.

Damages awarded by the Icelandic government totaled 7.46 million ISK, with an additional 1,925,100 ISK in legal fees also paid. Individual compensation ranged from 150,000 ISK to 500,000 ISK.

The police report in question, “Summary of the structure of the police with protests from 2008 to 2011”, was put together by former Chief Superintendant of the Police Geir Jón Þórisson and released to the media in 2014 after activist and author Eva Hauksdóttir repeatedly appealed to authorities to make the report public from 2012 onwards.

Privacy violated

Despite public statements to the contrary, it was revealed that police did in fact keep surveillance over people based on their supposed political affiliations, with special attention being placed on people the police believed to be anarchists.

Also troubling was that the report itself detailed personal information on many people, which was clearly visible in the printed report.

The Data Protection Authority ruled the report was illegal in 2015. Firstly, because this information included, at times, the political opinions police suspected of participants, their family connections and their supposed state of mental health. Secondly, because attempts to black out names with a marker apparently failed, as it was still possible to read the names in question.

Damages begin to be paid

Subsequently, in 2018, two of the people named in the report were awarded damages. Snorri Páll Jónsson and Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir were each awarded 500,000 ISK in damages, in addition to 584,600 ISK for legal expenses, on account of sensitive and personal information about the two that was released in Geir Jón’s report.

With this latest awards ruling, the matter may now at last be closed, six years after the fact.

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