Iceland 2011 Draft Constitution

Table of Contents

Chapter II. Human rights and nature

Article 6. Equality

We are all equal before the law and shall enjoy human rights without discrimination with regard to gender, age, genotype, residence, financial position, disability, sexual orientation, race, opinions, political affiliation, religion, language, origin, family or position in other respects.

Men and women shall enjoy equal rights in all respects.

Article 7. The right to life

Everyone is born with the right to life.

Article 8. Human dignity

Everyone shall be guaranteed the right to live with dignity. The diversity of human life shall be respected in every regard.

Article 9. Protection of rights

The government is at all times required to protect the citizens against violations of human rights, whether committed by public authorities or others.

Article 10. Security

Everyone shall be guaranteed security and protection against violence of any kind, such as sexual violence, inside and outside the home.

Article 11. Protection of privacy

The protection of personal privacy and the privacy of home and family shall be guaranteed.

Bodily or personal search, or a search of a person’s premises or possessions, is permitted only in accordance with the decision of a court of law or specific permission by law. The same applies to the examination of documents and mail, communications by telephone and other telecommunications, and to any other comparable interference with a person’s right to privacy.

Notwithstanding the provisions of the first paragraph above, personal privacy and privacy of the home or family may be restricted by a specific provision of law if urgently necessary for the protection of the rights of others.

Article 12. Children’s rights

All children shall be guaranteed by law the protection and care that their well-being requires.

The best interests of the child shall always take precedence when decisions are made regarding a child’s affairs.

A child shall be guaranteed the right to express its views regarding all its affairs, and just account shall be taken of the child’s views in accordance with its age and maturity.

Article 13. Right of ownership

The right of private ownership shall be inviolate. No one may be obliged to surrender his property unless required by the public interest. Such a measure requires permission by law, and full compensation shall be paid.

Ownership rights entail obligations as well as restrictions in accordance with law

Article 14. Freedom of opinion and expression

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and belief and to the expression of his thoughts.

Censorship or other similar restrictions on freedom of expression shall never be provided for by law. However, the freedom of expression may be restricted by law for the protection of children, security, health or the reputation of others, as necessary in a democratic society.

The government shall guarantee conditions that are conducive to open and informed public discussion. Access to the Internet and information technology shall not be curtailed except by a decision of a court of law and on the same substantive conditions that apply to restrictions on the freedom of expression.

Everyone is accountable for the expression of his opinion before a court of law.

Article 15. Right to information

Everyone is free to gather and disseminate information.

Government administration shall be transparent, and documents, such as minutes of meetings, shall be preserved and any submissions, their origins, process and outcome, shall be recorded and documented. Such documents shall not be destroyed except in accordance with law.

Information and documents in the possession of the government shall be available without evasion and the law shall ensure public access to all documents collected or procured by public entities. A list of all cases and documents in public custody, their origin and content shall be available to all.

The collection, dissemination and surrender of documents, their preservation and publication, can only be restricted by law for a democratic purpose, e.g. in the interest of protecting personal privacy, the security of the nation or the lawful work of regulatory authorities. It is permitted to restrict access by law to working documents, provided that no further steps are taken than necessary to preserve the normal working conditions of government authorities.

As regards documents which are subject to confidentiality by law, information shall be available as regards the reasons for the confidentiality and the limits on the time of confidentiality.

Article 16. Freedom of the media

The freedom of the media, their independence and transparency of ownership shall be ensured by law.

The protection of journalists, their sources of information and whistle-blowers shall be ensured by law. It is not permitted to breach confidentiality without the consent of the person providing the information except in the process of criminal proceedings and pursuant to a court order.

Article 17. Freedom of culture and education

The freedom of science, higher learning and the arts shall be ensured by law.

Article 18. Freedom of religion

Everyone shall be guaranteed the right to belief and world view, including the right to change his religion or faith and remain independent of religious associations.

Everyone is free to practice religion, alone or in association with others, in private or in public.

The freedom to practice religion or faith shall only be subject to the limitations provided for by law and as necessary in a democratic society.

Article 19. Organisation of the Church

The organisation of the Church may be provided for by law.

If the Althing approves a change in the organisation of the State Church the matter shall be submitted to a vote for approval or rejection by the entire electorate of the country.

Article 20. Freedom of association

Everyone shall be guaranteed the right to form associations for any lawful purpose, including political associations and trade unions, without prior permission. An association may not be dissolved by an administrative decision.

No one may be obliged to be a member of any association. However, obligatory membership of an association may be provided for by law if necessary in order to enable an association to carry out its lawfully decreed functions for reasons of the public interest or the rights of others.

Article 21. Freedom of assembly

Everyone shall be ensured the right to assemble without special permission, as for meetings and protests. This right shall not be subject to any restrictions except as provided by law and as necessary in a democratic society.

Article 22. Social rights

Everyone shall be ensured by law the right to sustenance and social security.

Everyone in need shall be ensured by law the right to social security and social assistance, as in the case of unemployment, childbirth, old age, poverty, physical handicap, sickness, disability or comparable circumstances.

Article 23. Health services

Everyone shall have the right to enjoy mental and physical health to the highest possible standard.

Everyone shall be ensured by law the right to accessible, appropriate and adequate health services.

Article 24. Education

Everyone shall be ensured by law the right to general education and training to his ability.

Everyone who is subject to compulsory schooling shall have access to education without charge.

Education shall aim at achieving comprehensive development for each individual, critical thinking and consciousness of human rights, democratic rights and obligations.

Article 25. Freedom of employment

Everyone is free to pursue the occupation of his choosing. However, this right may be restricted by law if the public interest so requires.

The right to decent working conditions, such as rest, holidays and leisure time, shall be provided for by law. Everyone shall be ensured the right to fair remuneration and to negotiate employment terms and other rights relating to employment.

Article 26. Rights of residence and movement

All persons shall be free to choose their residence and shall be free to travel, subject to any limitations laid down by law.

No one may be prevented from leaving Iceland except by a decision of a court of law. However, a person may be prevented from leaving Iceland by lawful arrest.

The rights of refugees and asylum seekers to fair and swift proceedings shall be provided for by law.

Article 27. Deprivation of freedom

No one may be deprived of his freedom except as permitted by law.

Any person deprived of his freedom shall have the right to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor.

Any person arrested by reason of suspicion of criminal conduct shall be brought before a judge without delay. If he is not immediately released, the judge shall issue within 24 hours a reasoned decision as to whether he should be remanded in custody. Remanding in custody is permitted only in the case of actions which are subject to a sentence of imprisonment. The right of a person detained on remand to refer the remanding decision to a superior court shall be guaranteed by law. No person shall be remanded in custody for longer than necessary.

Any person deprived of his freedom for reasons other than criminal proceedings shall be entitled to have the legality of the measure reviewed by a court as promptly as possible. If the deprivation of freedom proves to have been unlawful he shall be released immediately.

Any person wrongfully deprived of freedom shall be entitled to compensation.

Article 28. Fair hearing

All persons shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time before an independent and impartial court of law for the determination of their rights and obligations, or in the event of any criminal charge against them. The hearing shall be conducted in public unless a judge decides otherwise pursuant to law in the interest of morals, public order, the security of the State or the interests of the parties and witnesses.

Everyone charged with criminal conduct shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Article 29. Prohibition of inhuman treatment

The death penalty may never be stipulated by law.

No one may be subjected to torture or any other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

No one shall be subjected to forced labour.

Article 30. Prohibition of retroactive punishment

No one may be subjected to punishment unless found guilty of conduct which was criminal according to law at the time of its occurrence, or which can be shown to be fully analogous to such conduct. The penalty must not be more severe than permitted by law at the time.

Article 31. Prohibition of compulsory military service

Compulsory military service may never be introduced into law.

Article 32. Cultural assets

Valuable national possessions pertaining to the Icelandic cultural heritage, such as national relics and ancient manuscripts, may neither be destroyed nor surrendered for permanent possession or use, sold or pledged.

Article 33. Iceland’s nature and environment

Iceland’s nature is the foundation of life in the country. Everyone is under obligation to respect it and protect it.

Everyone shall by law be ensured the right to a healthy environment, fresh water, clean air and unspoiled nature. This means maintenance of life and land and protection of sites of natural interest, unpopulated wilderness, vegetation and soil. Previous damage shall be repaired to the extent possible.

The use of natural resources shall be managed so as to minimise their depletion in the long term with respect for the rights of nature and future generations.

The right of the public to travel the country for lawful purposes with respect for nature and the environment shall be ensured by law.

Article 34. Natural resources

Iceland’s natural resources which are not in private ownership are the common and perpetual property of the nation. No one may acquire the natural resources or their attached rights for ownership or permanent use, and they may never be sold or mortgaged.

Resources under national ownership include resources such as harvestable fish stocks, other resources of the sea and sea bed within Icelandic jurisdiction and sources of water rights and power development rights, geothermal energy and mining rights. National ownership of resources below a certain depth from the surface of the earth may be provided for by law.

The utilisation of the resources shall be guided by sustainable development and the public interest.

Government authorities, together with those who utilise the resources, are responsible for their protection. On the basis of law, government authorities my grant permits for the use or utilisation of resources or other limited public goods against full consideration and for a reasonable period of time. Such permits shall be granted on a non-discriminatory basis and shall never entail ownership or irrevocable control of the resources.

Article 35. Information on the environment and legitimate interests

The government authorities are required to inform the public about the state of the environment and nature and the impact of development thereon. The government authorities and other parties shall provide information regarding any impending natural disasters, such as environmental pollution.

Public access to preparations for decisions which will impact the environment and nature, as well as permission to seek the intervention of impartial administrative agencies, shall be ensured by law.

Decisions made by government authorities on Iceland’s nature and environment shall be grounded in the principles of environmental law.

Article 36. Protection of animals

The protection of animals against abuse and the protection of endangered species of animal shall be provided for by law.