From Iceland — Special Committee Recommends Investigation Into Treatment Of People With Disabilities

Special Committee Recommends Investigation Into Treatment Of People With Disabilities

Published June 9, 2022

Photo by
Art Bicnick

A special committee reporting to Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir intends to investigate the treatment of adults with developmental disabilities or mental health problems in government facilities as far back as the 1970s, reports Vísir

Who better to ask what’s best in Reykjavík than the people who live here? Every year we round up a panel of experts and enthusiasts in every category and make them pick the best of everything. To celebrate, we’re putting a free copy of our Best Of 2002 issue in EVERY box we have for a limited time!

The committee recommended Wednesday that the Prime Minister establish a special investigative committee for this issue. Although the investigation was intended to focus on recent years, the committee believes it is important to retrospectively examine the facilities and treatment of disabled people because it is very likely this group has been harmed in institutions in previous years, according to the committee’s report.

News coverage of the ill-treatment of residents in Arnarholt in the 1970s prompted the committee to suggest a retrospective study. Additionally, an assessment of the situation of children in Kópavogur revealed adults have been abused and subjected to ill-treatment.

“The purpose of such a retrospective survey must be that those who have been ill-treated receive recognition for it and receive appropriate assistance to work through difficult experiences,” the committee says, according to Fréttablaðið.

31 out of 69 municipalities did not respond

Out of 69 municipalities contacted, 31 municipalities did not respond to the committee’s request for information despite repeated requests. Those that did not respond include the fourth and fifth-most populous municipalities in the country, Reykjanesbær and Akureyri, reports RÚV.

Árni Múli Jónasson, director of the disability services organisation Landssamtökin Þroskahjálp, was surprised at the indifference of so many municipalities. He is pleased that the investigation will be carried out by the parliament and not the executive but would have liked the investigation to go further back than 1970.

“These are stories that must be told, both in order for people to receive justice and for it to be acknowledged that they were treated in a completely unacceptable way and that we learn from this,” says Árni Múli. “There is a need for much better supervision of these vulnerable people who are taken out of society and put in institutions and placed somewhere. And that of course means that people are put in situations where there is a high risk that they do not enjoy the minimum rights.” 

Committee’s main conclusions

The committee proposes the investigation be carried out in accordance with the provisions of Act no. 68/2011 on investigative committees. Such an arrangement gives the investigative committee independence, strengthens investigative powers and is in accordance with the will of parliament that general law applies to such investigations.

The proposed research periods are from 1970 to 2011 and 2011 to the present day. The research is based on non-discrimination in the scope of the research and should be based on transparency, both in terms of procedures and results.

People with developmental disabilities and people with mental health problems should be among the committee members. Additionally, great emphasis should be placed on ensuring that people with developmental disabilities and people with mental health problems receive adequate assistance in presenting their cases to the committee and following them up.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!