Iceland’s coalition government has collapsed following a scandal with links to Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson. The scandal involves clearing the criminal record of one Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson – a man who raped his step-daughter for 12 years.
The scandal has unsettled the government for two reasons. The first is that the person who signed a letter recommending “restored honour” be granted for Hauksson was the Prime Minister’s father. The second is that the Prime Minister, and members of his party, have known about this since at least July.
There were requests by the media for the Prime Minister’s Independence Party to release information. But it did not release it voluntarily. A parliamentary committee had to order the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to release it. And the same parliamentary committee ruled that, in keeping the information secret, the MoJ had gone beyond the bounds of law.
The process of clearing someone’s criminal record in Iceland is known as “restored honour”. This process allows convicted criminals to apply for jobs they would otherwise be barred from having. It has proved incredibly controversial, especially with cases involving people who were found guilty of sexual abuse.
Regarding the case that has collapsed the Icelandic government, The Reykjavik Grapevine reports:
The survivor of Hjalti’s abuses has said in an interview with Stundin that Hjalti receiving restored honour has been “surreal”, adding that he continues to harass her to this day in the form of messages, phone calls, and other attempts at contact.
The coalition government
The Icelandic government was a coalition between the Prime Minister’s Independence Party, the Reform Party, and Bright Future. Since the scandal broke, Bright Future has left the coalition. And as another coalition is unlikely, there could soon be a general election.
Iceland has been politically volatile for the past decade. Following the 2008 banking crisis, Iceland actually held its bankers accountable and sent them to prison. Another Icelandic PM was forced to resign in 2016 following a tax avoidance scandal that was exposed by the Panama Papers. And the Pirate Party, run by a former WikiLeaks activist, has helped to bring anti-corruption politics into the mainstream.
Overall, Iceland has dealt with corruption in a manner that’s at odds with other Western countries. So it will be interesting to see how people react now to political elites letting them down once again.
– You can also join The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.
Featured image via Wikimedia
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?