MP and IMMI Chairman Birgitta Jónsdóttir, inquired about the status of Icelandic Modern Media Initiative resolution in Alþingi (unanimously adopted in 2010) recently and voiced her concerns about the government’s lack of action. Birgitta’s speech was thus:
I want to alert the president [of Alþingi] of the fact that the Minister of Education and Culture has not honored his own words, but in answer to my inquiry last May the Minister explained that he would introduce to the public a report by the steering committee on defamation legislation in June of this year, which has still not been published.
The steering committee is tasked with implementing the resolution on legislative changes for information freedom and freedom of expression, and works under the guidance of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Furthermore, Birgitta went on:
I’d also like to alert the president of the fact that the steering committee has not met since May of this year and an employee of the committee has since left their job. This I had to find out by reading news of personnel changes on a news site. No one, to my knowledge, has been tasked with overseeing the work of the committee. It is necessary to acquire information on the fate of the committee, and it’s obvious that a great many are waiting for the committee to finish its priority projects that the Minister at that time set forth.
These priority matters were, among others, the abolition of penal code punishment in defamation cases, changes to the Administrative Procedures Act on the confidentiality of public employees, but the committee drafted a bill on the matter last year. The new bill is meant to increase clarity and better enable public employees to blow the whistle on violations and other abuses of power. The bill, drafted by ex Supreme Court Judge Páll Hreinsson, was on the government’s list of parliamentary subjects before last parliament, but is no longer to be seen and seems to be dead and buried in the Prime Minister’s Office.
In the Minister’s response to my inquiry he also said that he would further inform Alþingi of the status of the resolution at the start of Alþingi in the autumn (which is to say, NOW). I call for the president to endeavor without delay to have the Minister inform Alþingi on the status of the resolution, and it says clearly and precisely in the resolution that the Minister shall inform Alþingi on the process of implementation every three months, which the current Minister has never done.