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President Critical of High Court

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President Critical of High Court

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson.

President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson. Photo: The president's office/Facebook

Icelandic President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson believes it was a major mistake after the 2008 banking collapse to make use of an ancient and outdated clause in the Icelandic constitution to assemble the High Court of Iceland (Landsdómur). The ruling of the court rather split the nation than united it at the worst possible time, Guðni stated.

An interview with the president on this issue was published in Lögrétta yesterday, RÚV reports. In Guðni’s opinion, no one wants a clause on the High Court to be in the constitution.

The High Court convened for the first time in Iceland’s history on March 8, 2011 to hear the case of former Prime Minister of Iceland Geir H. Haarde, whom Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, charged with violating laws on ministerial responsibility in the months leading up to the banking collapse.

On April 17, 2012, the High Court acquitted Geir of three out of four charges, but found him guilty of one charge, that is, for not having held cabinet meetings on important matters in the lead-up to the economic collapse. Geir received no punishment.

In the interview with Lögrétta, the president also spoke of his office’s right to veto and said it would be fairer and more democratic to have a clause in the constitution, stipulating that a certain number of voters can demand that laws be denied ratification.

Members of Parliament discussed the High Court in Alþingi yesterday. MP Eygló Harðardóttir, the Progressive Party, stated that it would be good if the initiative for such a change in the constitution came from the government. Leader of the Social Democratic Alliance Logi Már Einarsson agreed with the president that the clause regarding the High Court is outdated. Pirate Party Captain Birgitta Jónsdóttir would like to see the clause on the High Court changed, but only if the whole constitution is revised.

Left-Green Movement Leader Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated that suggestions are ready for how to revise clauses on ministerial responsibility. She finds it timely that the constitution be revised regarding these matters.

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