Police Host Twitterthon This Friday

Police

Police authorities in the Reykjavík capital area, Southern Peninsula (Reykjanes Peninsula) and in North-East Iceland will be staging a marathon Twitter session this Friday, Víkurfréttir reports. The iniative, named #löggutíst, will reveal every event police authorities tend to in the 12 hour time slot from 16:00 on Friday, December 12, to 04:00 on Saturday night.

The project aims to give the public an insight into Police work by letting Twitter users follow the different matters Police have to tend to. It will reveal both the nature, outcome, number, and diversity of the different calls the Police receives.

Police authorities in Iceland have taken an active role on social media to inform the public about Police activities. Police authorities are on different social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and the aforementioned Twitter. Among others, police authorities use social media to assist with finding lost people, as well as raising awareness of traffic issues. The Police in the Reykjavík capital area originally created a Facebook account in 2010, and their page has 87,691 likes today.

Police authorities have historically had a relatively high trust rating with the Icelandic public. Polling company Gallup has polled Icelanders regarding their trust in different Icelandic institutions. In the last such poll, conducted in February 2018, 77% of those polled stated they trust the Police. The Police came in 3rd in the rankings, following the Icelandic Coast Guard (91%) and the Office of the President of Iceland (80%). Alarmingly, there was an 8% reduction in trust of the Police between 2017 and 2018.

Follow the iniative using the hashtag #löggutíst (#loggutist). 

Southern Peninsula Police: https://twitter.com/sudurnespolice

Reykjavík capital area Police: www.twitter.com/logreglan

North-East Police: www.twitter.com/logreglanNE

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Dental Age Analysis of Asylum Seekers Unethical, Critics Say

Háskóli Íslands University of Iceland

Students and staff at the University of Iceland are speaking out against the institution’s practice of conducting dental age estimation on young asylum seekers, Stundin reports. “We are very alarmed that this was done without a contract, within the university[…]and that some payments were made and it’s unclear who received them,” says Elísabet Brynjarsdóttir, president of the University of Iceland Student Council and one of the individuals who has spoken out about the practice, carried out in service of the Directorate of Immigration.

Physical analysis without a contract

The university has been performing dental analysis of asylum seekers in order to determine their age on behalf of the Directorate of Immigration for years, apparently without a formal contract. The Student Council, alongside the National Union for Icelandic Students, as well as employees and doctoral students of the University of Iceland Schools of Education and Humanities issued a statement recently harshly criticising the practice at the institution.

Opponents of the practice say it goes against the university’s ethical guidelines, which stipulate that researchers should not work against the interests of disadvantaged or marginalised groups. They have also pointed out the social role of educational institutions and the importance of keeping their work separate from that of governmental institutions such as the Directorate of Immigration.

University of Iceland Rector Jón Atli Benediktsson sent an email to the school’s employees last week stating all dental assessments would be suspended while the matter was being considered by the School of Health Sciences. Student Council President Elísabet says the council’s position is simple: they are wholeheartedly opposed to the University conducting dental age estimation on young asylum seekers, whether or not the practice is governed by a formal agreement.

Incorrect analysis

Stundin reported in October that a 17-year-old asylum seeker was wrongly assessed to be 18 years of age by a dental age estimation carried out at the University of Iceland. “We have confirmed examples here in Iceland of when dental age estimation did not give a correct analysis,” stated  Guðríður Lára Þrastardóttir, a spokesperson for asylum seekers at the Icelandic Red Cross.

Unaccompanied asylum seekers who are minors have certain rights which those 18 years and older do not. Their position is automatically considered vulnerable and they may not be, for example, deported on the basis of the Dublin Regulation. In cases where asylum seekers assert they are under 18 but do not have reliable identification, certain countries will use physical analysis such as dental age estimation to determine the individual’s age.

Klaustur MPs Shun Committee Meeting

Gunnar Bragi and Sigmundur Davíð

Centre Party MPs Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson have failed to respond to repeated requests to meet with the Constitutional and Supervisory Committee, RÚV reports. The committee, which was scheduled to meet with the MPs today to discuss the content of the Klaustur recordings, has thus postponed the event.

Sigmundur Davíð and Gunnar Bragi were among a group of six members of parliament caught on tape making sexist, homophobic, and ableist comments about colleagues at a Reykjavík bar. The contents of the recording have caught the attention of local and international media and led to public protest.

Political favours

The committee called the meeting to discuss specific statements made by Gunnar Bragi in the recording, specifically regarding the appointment of Geir Haarde as ambassador. In the recording, Gunnar Bragi spoke at length about the how he’d appointed former Prime Minister Geir Haarde to an ambassadorial position as a political favour that he expected to be rewarded for by current Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson. Sigmundur Davíð is heard on the tape confirming the statement. Pirate Party MP Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir has stated that considering the statements, Geir Haarde’s appointment would represent corruption in public service and entail a breach of ethics.

Bjarni Benediktsson and current Foreign Affairs Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson had also been requested to attend the meeting. Bjarni had confirmed his attendance, while Guðlaugur Þór is currently abroad and would have missed the meeting.

Hindering committees’ work

Helga Vala Helgadóttir, the committee’s chairperson, says it is a serious issue if elected officials can get away with ignoring requests from standing committees of parliament. “It’s one thing to struggle with doing your own job, but another when you’re getting in the way of the work of entire committees,” she stated.

Legal action

The four MPs have hired a lawyer to represent them in the case. The lawyer has contacted the Icelandic Data Protection Authority on their behalf. The Authority has received four messages from the public asking whether they will investigate the issue. Data Protection Commissioner Helga Þórisdóttir has stated that it remains unclear whether or not the Authority will formally investigate the issue, but it will be discussed at a board meeting at the end of next week. “It’s natural that some kind of stance will be taken on the issue by the Data Protection Authority,” Helga added, saying the recordings could be investigated in relation to privacy laws.

White-Tailed Eagles Multiply in Iceland

Juvenile white-tailed eagle

Iceland’s white-tailed eagles have had a remarkably successful breeding season, according to wildlife ecologist Kristinn Haukur Skarphéðinsson, Head of Zoology at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History. The stock now numbers 82 pairs, of which 53 laid eggs during summer, producing 39 young, reports mbl.is.

“We found eight new pairs, which is a 10% increase in egg-laying pairs,” Kristinn remarked. “Five of them were definitely laying eggs for the first time. Never before have so many new pairs been found.”

Kristinn says it is clear the white-tailed eagle stock has grown significantly in recent decades. The development can be linked to the 1964 ban of a poison used for foxes, which was fatal to many eagles. The growth seen this summer was, however, unusually great. While the species tends to steer clear of humans, this year several eagle nests were found very close to farms, yet hidden so well they remained unnoticed by residents. White-tailed eagles were observed unusually calm and fearless near inhabited regions.