A cabinet meeting will be held at 4.00pm this afternoon to decide on a new Minister of Justice, RÚV reports. The post was vacated yesterday when Sigríður Andersen announced she would be stepping down from the position, following a European Court of Human Rights ruling that her appointments to the Icelandic Court of Appeal violated Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, meant to ensure individuals’ right to a fair trial.
No such thing as “temporary leave”
Though Sigríður described her departure as temporary leave, Professor of Political Science Eiríkur Bergmann says there is no precedent for such an action in Alþingi. “A minister must be appointed to office by presidential decree. Once that happens [this afternoon], Sigríður Andersen is just as much not a minister as everyone else who is not a minister.” In order to return to the post, Sigríður would need to be reappointed officially.
Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson stated yesterday that it was most likely the position would be filled by a current minister or an Independence Party MP. Bjarni stated that it wasn’t out of the question for Sigríður to return to the post. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir said it was too early to say whether Sigríður would return to the ministry, but previously expressed her support of her decision to step down.
Katrín and Bjarni both expressed support for appealing the European Court of Human Rights’ decision, as the outcome is consequential for the government.