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Iceland[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

When Iceland signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child in January of 1990, it made two declarations in reference to Article 9 and 37.  Article 9 provides, among other things, that proceedings conducted in order to separate a child from his parents must be subject to judicial review.  Iceland stated that while the relevant administrative proceedings in Iceland are final decisions in the sense that they are not appealed, the courts are able to nullify decisions that are based upon unlawful premises.  Still, Iceland included a provision for parents or children aged 15 or over to appeal decisions in a district court in its Child Protection Act of 2002.  Article 37 provides that juvenile offenders must be imprisoned in separate facilities from adult offenders.  Iceland declared that while separating juvenile offenders from adult prisoners is not mandatory, judges deciding in which penal institution a juvenile should be incarcerated must take into account the age of the offender.  Furthermore, though Iceland ratified the Convention, the constitution provides that the ratification of treaties does not give them the status of domestic legislation.  Ratified treaties may be invoked in reference to international law, but not in domestic courts.  Domestic legislation, however, may be interpreted in light of ratified international law.[2]

Though Iceland had a child protection system when it signed the Convention, since 1990 the country has made significant progress in reinforcing the existing system and revising legislation to reflect its commitment to the rights of children.  Iceland created the Office of Children's Ombudsman, charged with increasing public awareness of children's rights and encouraging compliance with relevant human rights treaties, and set up the Government Agency for Child Protection in 1995, a national agency centralizing the municipal Children Protection Committees and providing them with guidance and training.  The Icelandic legislature revised the Constitution to explicitly protect children's rights and introduced the 1999 Adoption Act, the 2002 Child Protection Act, and the 2003 Act in Respect of Children, which governs custody disputes and paternity cases.  All three Acts include the rights set out in the Convention and were passed in response to the recommendations made by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The Child Protection Act only partially bestows the rights provided for in Article 12; a child's ability to express his opinion is highly dependant on his age.  A child aged 15 or over is a formal party to the proceedings, which take place before the Child Protection Committee, and has the right to legal counsel, paid for by the state if it is deemed that his family is not financially able.  A child aged 12 or over must be allowed to express an opinion, and a younger child is allowed to express a view in accordance with the child's age and maturity.  In certain cases, a spokesperson is appointed by the Government Agency for Child Protection. However, legislation does not specify if the spokesperson has the responsibility of conveying the child's wishes.

 

Sources of Law

Original Text

Acts

Barnaverndarlög.[3]

4. gr. Meginreglur barnaverndarstarfs.
Í barnaverndarstarfi skal beita þeim ráðstöfunum sem ætla má að barni séu fyrir bestu. Hagsmunir barna skulu ávallt hafðir í fyrirrúmi í starfsemi barnaverndaryfirvalda.

Í störfum sínum skulu barnaverndaryfirvöld taka tillit til sjónarmiða og óska barna eftir því sem aldur þeirra og þroski gefur tilefni til. . .

23. gr. Áætlun um meðferð máls.

. . . Ef könnun leiðir í ljós að þörf er á beitingu sérstakra úrræða samkvæmt lögum þessum skal barnaverndarnefnd, í samvinnu við foreldra og eftir atvikum barn sem náð hefur 15 ára aldri, gera skriflega áætlun um frekari meðferð máls. Hafa skal samráð við yngri börn eftir því sem aldur þeirra og þroski gefur tilefni til. Áætlun skal gera til ákveðins tíma og endurskoða eftir þörfum. . .

25. gr. Úrræði utan heimilis með samþykki foreldra og barns.

Barnaverndarnefnd getur, eftir því sem nánar er ákveðið í áætlun skv. 23. gr., með samþykki foreldra og barns sem náð hefur 15 ára aldri:

a. tekið við forsjá eða umsjá barns og ráðstafað barni í fóstur,

b. tekið við forsjá eða umsjá barns og vistað barn utan heimilis á heimili eða stofnun eða leitað annarra úrræða skv. XIII. og XIV. kafla til umönnunar, rannsóknar, meðferðar eða stuðnings.

Fóstur eða vistun barns skv. 1. mgr. skal eigi standa lengur en þörf krefur. Ráðstafanir þessar skulu að jafnaði vera tímabundnar og sæta reglulegri endurskoðun eftir því sem nánar er kveðið á um í fóstur- eða vistunarsamningi. Með tilliti til hagsmuna barns getur fóstur eða vistun þó varað þar til barn verður lögráða.

Ef ráðstöfun skv. a- eða b-lið 1. mgr. er gegn vilja barns sem ekki hefur náð 15 ára aldri skal það fá tækifæri til að tala máli sínu fyrir nefndinni með liðsinni sérstaks talsmanns ef því er að skipta.

Fari foreldrar sem búa ekki saman sameiginlega með forsjá samkvæmt ákvæðum barnalaga þarf samþykki beggja foreldra til ráðstöfunar. Ef barn sem orðið er 15 ára samþykkir úrræði nægir samþykki þess foreldris sem barnið býr hjá en leita skal umsagnar hins foreldrisins.

27. gr. Úrskurður barnaverndarnefndar um vistun barns utan heimilis.

Með sömu skilyrðum og fram koma í 26. gr. og ef brýnir hagsmunir barns mæla með því getur barnaverndarnefnd með úrskurði gegn vilja foreldra og/eða barns sem náð hefur 15 ára aldri:

a. kveðið á um að barn skuli vera kyrrt á þeim stað þar sem það dvelst í allt að tvo mánuði,

b. kveðið á um töku barns af heimili í allt að tvo mánuði og um nauðsynlegar ráðstafanir, svo sem ráðstöfun þess í fóstur eða vistun á heimili eða stofnun eða leitað annarra úrræða skv. XIII. og XIV. kafla til að tryggja öryggi þess eða til að unnt sé að gera viðeigandi rannsókn á barninu og veita því nauðsynlega meðferð og aðhlynningu.

Foreldrum eða barni sem náð hefur 15 ára aldri er heimilt að bera úrskurð barnaverndarnefndar undir héraðsdómara. Krafa þess efnis skal berast dómara innan fjögurra vikna frá því að úrskurður var kveðinn upp. Málskot til dómstóla kemur ekki í veg fyrir að úrskurður barnaverndarnefndar komi til framkvæmda.

Um málsmeðferð fyrir dómi fer skv. XI. kafla.

34. gr. Endurskoðun ráðstafana.

Ef foreldri eða barn sem náð hefur 15 ára aldri afturkallar samþykki sitt fyrir tímabundnu úrræði skv. 25. gr. getur barnaverndarnefnd gripið til ráðstafana skv. 26., 27., 28. eða 29. gr. ef skilyrðum þeirra greina er að öðru leyti fullnægt.

Hafi foreldri eða barn sem náð hefur 15 ára aldri veitt samþykki fyrir úrræði skv. 25. gr. sem ætlað er að standa þar til barn verður lögráða eða hafi foreldri verið svipt forsjá skv. 29. gr. getur foreldri eða barn sem náð hefur 15 ára aldri gert kröfu á hendur barnaverndarnefnd og fósturforeldrum, ef það á við, fyrir dómi um að samningi verði hnekkt eða dómi um sviptingu breytt og að foreldri verði falin forsjá eða umsjá barns að nýju.

Krafa skv. 2. mgr. verður því aðeins tekin til greina að breyting þyki réttmæt vegna breyttra aðstæðna, raski ekki stöðugleika í uppeldi barns og taki mið af hag og þörfum þess. Ef foreldri hefur verið svipt forsjá er einungis unnt að gera kröfu ef liðnir eru tólf mánuðir hið skemmsta frá því að dómstóll leysti síðast úr máli með endanlegum dómi.

Ráðstöfun helst þar til dómur hefur fallið.

Um málsmeðferð fyrir dómi samkvæmt þessari grein fer samkvæmt ákvæðum X. kafla.

40. gr. Leiðbeiningarskylda.

Barnaverndarnefnd skal leiðbeina foreldrum, barni og öðrum eftir því sem við á um málsmeðferð barnaverndarmála og um réttindi þeirra og skyldur samkvæmt málsmeðferðarreglum þessum og stjórnsýslulögum, svo sem um rétt til aðstoðar lögmanns, kæruleiðir o.fl.

46. gr. Réttindi barns við málsmeðferð.

Barn sem náð hefur 15 ára aldri er aðili barnaverndarmáls samkvæmt ákvæðum 25., 27., 2. mgr. 34., 74. og 81. gr. Um aðild barns að barnaverndarmálum sem rekin eru fyrir dómi gilda ákvæði X. og XI. kafla.

Gefa skal barni kost á að tjá sig um mál sem það varðar í samræmi við aldur þess og þroska og taka skal réttmætt tillit til skoðana þess við úrlausn málsins. Ávallt skal gefa barni sem náð hefur 12 ára aldri kost á að tjá sig um mál.

Þegar barnaverndarnefnd hefur tekið ákvörðun um að hefja könnun máls skal hún þegar taka afstöðu til þess hvort þörf sé á að skipa barni talsmann. Jafnan skal skipa barni talsmann áður en gripið er til ráðstafana skv. 25., 27. eða 28. gr. og áður en sett er fram krafa um sviptingu forsjár skv. 29. gr. nema barn njóti aðstoðar lögmanns, sbr. 2. mgr. 47. gr. Ráðherra skal kveða nánar á um hæfi og hlutverk talsmanna í barnaverndarmálum í reglugerð1) að fengnum tillögum Barnaverndarstofu.
   1)
Rg. 56/2004.

47. gr. Andmælaregla.

Aðilar barnaverndarmáls skulu eiga þess kost að tjá sig munnlega eða skriflega, þar með talið með aðstoð lögmanns, um efni máls og annað sem lýtur að málsmeðferðinni áður en barnaverndarnefnd kveður upp úrskurð.

Barnaverndarnefnd skal veita foreldrum og barni sem er aðili máls fjárstyrk til að greiða fyrir lögmannsaðstoð skv. 1. mgr. og í tengslum við rekstur máls fyrir kærunefnd barnaverndarmála eftir reglum sem nefndin setur. Í reglunum skal taka tillit til efnahags foreldra, eðlis og umfangs málsins.

48. gr. Samþykki foreldra og barns.

Samþykki foreldra og barns skv. 25. gr. skal vera skriflegt og undirritað í viðurvist tveggja óháðra manna sem votta að foreldrum og barni hafi verið gerð full grein fyrir eðli og réttaráhrifum samþykkisins.

55. gr. Aðild barns.

Barni sem náð hefur 15 ára aldri skal tilkynnt um málshöfðun og gefinn kostur á að gæta réttar síns. Er barninu heimilt að ganga inn í mál með meðalgöngustefnu.

Þegar barni hefur verið skipaður talsmaður skal gefa honum kost á að vera viðstaddur þinghöld í máli ef vörnum er haldið uppi.

Ávallt skal gefa barni kost á að tjá sig um mál sem það varðar þótt það gerist ekki aðili þess skv. 1. mgr.

International Law

Barnasáttmálinn[4]

12. gr.

1. Aðildarríki skulu tryggja barni sem myndað getur eigin skoðanir rétt til að láta þær frjálslega í ljós í öllum málum sem það varða, og skal tekið réttmætt tillit til skoðana þess í samræmi við aldur þess og þroska.

2. Vegna þessa skal barni einkum veitt tækifæri til að tjá sig við hverja þá málsmeðferð fyrir dómi eða stjórnvaldi sem barnið varðar, annaðhvort beint eða fyrir milligöngu talsmanns eða viðeigandi stofnunar, á þann hátt sem samræmist reglum í lögum um málsmeðferð.

Translation[5]

Acts

Child Protection Act, 2002[6]

Art. 4 Principals of child protection work.

In child protection work, those arrangements shall be made which may be expected to be best for the child. The interests of children shall always be paramount in the work of child protection authorities.

In their work, child protection authorities shall take account of children's views and wishes, in accord with the age and maturity of the child. . .

Art. 23 — Schedule for handling of case.

. . . If an investigation reveals that special measures as provided in this Act are required, the child protection committee shall, in collaboration with the parents and if applicable the child, if aged 15 or over, make a written schedule for further handling of the case. Younger children shall be consulted in accord with their age and maturity. The schedule shall be made for a specified period, and revised as necessary. . .

Art. 25 Measures outside the home with consent of parents and child.

The child protection committee may, as further specified in a schedule as provided in art. 23, with the consent of a parent and a child aged at least 15:

a. assume custody or care of the child and place the child in foster care,

b. assume custody or care of the child and place the child outside the home in a home or institution, or seek other measures as provided in Sections XIII and XIV, for care, tests, treatment and support.

Foster care or placement of a child as provided in para. 1 shall not last longer than necessary. Such arrangements shall normally be temporary, and shall be regularly reviewed as further specified in a foster-care or placement agreement. With a view to the child's interests, however, foster care or placement may continue until the child is of age.

If arrangements under item a or b para. 1 are against the will of a child who has not reached the age of 15, the child shall have the opportunity to put his/her point of view to the committee, with the assistance of a spokesperson if applicable.

In a case where parents who do not live together have joint custody under the terms of the Children Act, the consent of both parents is required for measures to be taken. If a child who has reached the age of 15 consents to the arrangements, the consent of the parent with whom the child lives is sufficient, but the other parent's views shall also be elicited.

Art. 27 Child protection committee ruling on placement of a child outside the home

On the same conditions as those stated in art. 26, and if justified by compelling interests of the child, a child protection committee may by a ruling, against the will of parents or of a child aged at least 15:

a. rule that a child shall remain where he/she is resident for up to two months,

b. rule that a child shall be removed from the home for up to two months, and on necessary arrangements, such as the placement of the child in foster care or in a home or institution, or seek other measures under Sections XIII and XIV to ensure the child's safety, or in order that suitable tests on the child may be carried out, and necessary treatment and care may be provided.

Parents, or a child aged at least 15, may appeal the ruling of a child protection committee to a district court judge. Such an appeal must reach the judge within four weeks of the ruling being made. An appeal to the courts does not prevent the implementation of the child protection committee's ruling.

Court procedure is as provided in Section XI.

Art. 34 Review of arrangements

Should a parent, or a child aged at least 15, revoke his/her consent for temporary measures under art. 25, the child protection committee may make arrangements under arts. 26, 27, 28 or 29 if the conditions of those articles are otherwise met.

Should a parent, or a child aged at least 15, have given consent for measures under art. 25, which are intended to continue until the child is of age, or if a parent has been deprived of custody under art. 29, the parent, or child aged at least 15, may take court action against the child protection committee or foster parents, if applicable, for the agreement to be set aside, or for the court order on deprivation of custody to be quashed, and for the parent to be granted custody or care of the child once more.

An action under para. 2 will only be approved if such a change is deemed justified due to changed circumstances, does not disrupt the stability of the child's upbringing, and takes account of the child's interests and needs. If a parent has been deprived of custody, legal action may only be taken if at least twelve months have passed since a final court order was last made.

The arrangements shall continue until a verdict is reached.

With regard to court procedure under this article, the provisions of Section X shall apply.

Art. 40 Duty to provide guidance

A child protection committee shall provide guidance to parents, child and others as relevant on the procedure of child protection cases, and on their rights and obligations under these rules of procedure and laws of public administration, such as right to legal counsel, means of appeal, etc.

Art. 46 Rights of the child in procedure

A child who has reached the age of 15 is a party to a child protection case under the terms of arts 25 and 27, para. 2 art. 34, and arts. 74 and 81. With regard to the child's position in child protection cases that go to court, the terms of Sections X and XI shall apply.

A child shall be given the opportunity of expressing his/her views in cases affecting him/her, in accord with the child's age and maturity, and the child's views shall be fairly taken into account in resolution of the case. A child who has reached the age of 12 shall always been given the opportunity to express his/her views.

When a child protection committee has decided to initiate investigation of a case, a decision must be made at once on whether it is necessary to appoint a spokesperson for the child. A spokesperson for the child shall normally be appointed before the measures provided in arts. 25, 27 or 28 are applied, and before legal action is taken for deprivation of custody under art. 29, unless the child has legal counsel, cp. para. 2 art. 47. The Minister shall define in more detail the qualifications and role of a child's spokesperson in child protection cases, by regulations,1) on receipt of proposals from the Government Agency for Child Protection.

1) Regulations No. 56/2004.

Art. 47 Right of response

The parties to a child protection case shall have the opportunity to express their views, verbally or in writing, including with legal counsel, on the content of the case, and other factors relating to procedure, before the child protection committee makes its ruling.

The child protection committee shall make grants of money to parents, and a child who is a party to the case, to pay for legal counsel under para. 1 and in connection with appeals to the Child Protection Appeals Board, under rules to be issued by the committee. The rules shall take account of the financial position of the parents, and the nature and extent of the case.

Art. 48 Consent of parents and child

The consent of parents and child under art. 25 shall be in writing and signed in the presence of two neutral witnesses who affirm that the nature and legal implications of the consent have been fully explained to the parents and child.

Art. 55 Child's participation in a case

A child who has reached the age of 15 shall be informed of the legal action being taken, and given the opportunity to safeguard his/her rights. The child may become a formal party to the case by means of a writ of intervention.

When a spokesperson has been appointed for a child, the spokesperson shall be given the opportunity to be present during the proceedings if a defence is being offered.

A child shall invariably be given the opportunity to express his/her views in a case involving him/her, even if the child is not a formal party to the case as provided in para. 1.

International Law

Convention on the Rights of the Child, [7] ratified Oct. 28, 1992.

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

Additional Resources and Links

Umboðsmaður Barna­­­­— Ombudsman for Children (In Icelandic, Danish, and English): http://www.barn.is/

Barnaverndarstofu— Government Agency for Child Protection (In Icelandic and English): http://www.bvs.is/ 

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Initial reports of States parties due in 1993: Iceland. 15/05/95, Committee on the Rights of the Child, ¶43, 44, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/11/Add. 6 available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf.

[3] Barnavernderlög [Child Protection Act], No. 80/2002, 4, 23, 25, 27, 34, 40, 46-48, 55 gr. (2004), available at http://www.althingi.is/lagas/nuna/2002080.html and also Ice_Child_Prot and also as .pdf Document.

[4] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989) available at http://unicef.is/hversvegna/index_731.htm.

[5] The translations are official ones.

[6] Child Protection Act, art. 4, No. 80/2002, Art. 4, 23, 25, 27, 34, 40, 46-48, 55 available at http://eng.felagsmalaraduneyti.is/legislation/nr/351 and also here, and also as .pdf Document,

 

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