Fréttir / News

The Icelandic State violated electoral laws according to the ECHR

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This morning, the European Court of Human Rights found in favour of two Applicants, represented by Sigurður Örn Hilmarsson, one of the owners at Réttur – Aðalsteinsson & Partners. The case concerned violations of electoral laws and discrepancy in the recount of votes in the Northwest constituency in Iceland for the Parliamentary Elections of 2021. The Court found that there had been a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 on the right to free elections to the European Convention on Human Rights, and to Article 13 on the right to effective remedy, in conjunction with Article 3 of Protocol No. 1. 

The judgement emphasizes the importance of upholding procedural rules to ensure free elections, and securing impartiality and objectivity. As noted in the Court’s press release: ‘The Court confirmed its position that the concept of free elections would be put at risk if only there were evidence of procedural breaches in the electoral process, capable of thwarting the free expression of the opinion of the people, and where such complaints had received no effective examination at domestic level.’ 

No rules, regulations or safeguards were in place to deal with the conflict of interests of members of parliament, as they faced the decision to rule on the validity of the election, they themselves were elected in. As a result, some members of parliament voted on the validity of the elections, and thereby determined their own destiny. The Court does not decide or speculate on political motivations, or the credibility of the investigation of the elections, but notes that this fact does result in genuine concerns to the integrity of the vote from the standpoint of appearances. The lack of necessary impartiality safeguards and the almost unlimited discretion of parliament to decide on the practical effects of the complaint, resulted in a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1. Furthermore, as the complaint was decided on by members of parliament themselves, without any safeguards on impartiality, there was a lack of effective remedy which violated Article 13. 

The judgement can be found in its entirety here and the Court’s press release on the matter here.