Reykjavík Capital Area Police are reviewing the case of a police officer who has been criticised for several social media posts about victims of sexual assault. The officer, Aníta Rut Harðardóttir, has since deleted her comments. Aníta also made headlines last year when a news photograph showed her sporting hate symbols on her uniform.
Aníta has deleted a series of comments she made on Facebook in response to the latest #metoo wave in Iceland, where victims have come forward asserting sexual violence at the hands of athletes and other public figures. In one of her posts, Aníta shares an article about Þórhildur Gyða Arnarsdóttir, who was assaulted by a national team football player, and accuses her of “drunken partying.” Another labels feminist activists as an “army of psychos,” calling their statements “nonsense.”
Newly-elected Deputy MP Lenya Rún Taha Karim has harshly criticised Aníta’s posts and demanded that police respond to the case. “This is first and foremost about her expressive her unequivocal views on a specific victim and I find that very inappropriate in and of itself,” Lenya Rún stated. “People look to the police in their worst moments, victims of sexual violence and other crimes, and they must be able to assume that they will resolve their cases on the basis of professionalism and impartiality. This is simply not in that spirit.”
Police responded to last year’s case involving Aníta by implementing rules that ban officers from wearing any symbols on their uniform that were not standard issue. In one of her deleted posts (pictured above) Aníta calls the patches “very controversial and innocent” and shares a photograph of them framed and hung up, presumably in her home.
In a radio interview yesterday, Police Chief Halla Bergþóra Björnsdóttir stated that the force sets extensive requirements on officers due to the nature of the job. While public service employees may express themselves, the Court of Human Rights has stated that it is normal for restrictions to be placed on freedom of expression due to the nature of certain jobs. “The reason for restricting our freedom of expression is that we need to have the public’s trust, and the public needs to be able to trust that we fulfill our responsibilities in a neutral manner.” She did not comment on Aníta’s case as police do not discuss cases involving individual police officers.