1. The Committee considered the second periodic report
of Iceland (CCPR/C/46/Add.5) at its 1266th to 1268th meetings, held
on 19 and 20 October 1993, and adopted at its 1281st meeting, held
on 29 November 1993 the following comments:
2. The Committee expresses its appreciation to the
State party for its elaborate and thorough report, which has been
prepared in accordance with the Committee's guidelines, and for
engaging through a highly qualified delegation in an extremely constructive
dialogue with the Committee. It notes with satisfaction that the
information provided in the report, and that orally submitted by
the delegation in reply to both written and oral questions, enabled
the Committee to obtain a comprehensive view of Iceland's actual
compliance with the obligations undertaken under the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee, however,
regrets that the second periodic report, which was due in 1987,
was submitted with considerable delay.
B. Factors and difficulties affecting the application of the
3. The Committee finds that there are no important
difficulties which may affect the effective implementation of the
Covenant's provisions by the Government of Iceland.
C. Positive aspects
4. The Committee welcomes the efforts undertaken by
the Government of Iceland since the submission of the initial report
in 1981 in order to effectively guarantee the protection of rights
set forth in the Covenant. Of particular importance in this respect
were the adoption and the entry into force on 1 July 1992 of a new
law resulting in the total separation of judicial and executive
power, as well as comprehensive legislation concerning extensive
changes in the judicial system and rules governing judicial procedure;
the establishment in 1988, in accordance with Law No.13/1987, of
the Office of Ombudsman of the Althing (Parliament); and the revisions
of the Equal Status Law of 1976.
5. In this connection, the Committee notes with satisfaction
that the Law No. 28/1991 on Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women
and Men has contributed towards equal rights of men and women in
general, although there is still room for improvement in practice
with regard to the remuneration for work. The Committee also notes
with interest the establishment of the Equal Rights Council with
the aim of ensuring the proper implementation of the Equal Rights
Law and of recommending proposals to the authorities regarding gender
equality. The announced establishment of Equal Rights Committees
at the municipal level throughout the country to provide counsel
to municipal governments would further serve the promotion of the
equality of rights of men and women.
D. Principal subjects of concern
6. The Committee notes with concern that the Icelandic
Constitution is lacking in clear and comprehensive provisions dealing
with the protection of all fundamental human rights as recognized
in the numerous international human rights treaties, in particular
in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to
which Iceland is a party. The absence is not met by reliance on
unspecified unwritten fundamental rules. This does not adequately
meet the requirements of article 2, paragraph 2, of the Covenant,
which enjoins States parties to take such legislative or other measures
which may be necessary to give effect to the rights recognized in
the Covenant. No matter how effective the Icelandic constitutional
tradition of relying on unwritten fundamental rules and principles
may be, codification of the rules governing the protection of human
rights is an important element of protection.
7. In this connection, the Committee expresses its
concern over the status of the Covenant within the national legal
order and the lack of clarity concerning the resolution of eventual
conflicts between the Covenant and the Constitution and other domestic
8. The Committee also expresses its concern over the
apparent preference accorded, in the domestic law as well as in
legal doctrine and jurisprudence, to the European Convention for
the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as against
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In that
regard, the attention of the State party is drawn to the fact that
the latter guarantees a number of human rights not protected under
the former and that permissible restrictions are less broad-based.
9. The Committee hopes that the pending legislation
relevant to article 13 will be formulated in such a way as to allow
the reservation thereunder to be withdrawn.
10. The Committee notes that some other requirements
of the Covenant are not fully met, in particular those referred
to in articles 4, 9, paragraphs 3 and 4, 19 and 24, paragraph 2.
The Committee also notes that confessions made under duress are
not clearly excluded as evidence, that inhuman and degrading punishment
is still possible, and that there is still discrimination against
children born out of wedlock and in favour of public officials.
The possibility of a sentence of up to one year's imprisonment for
libel presents problems in relation to article 19; and the limitation
imposed upon naturalized citizens in the retention of their names
of origin raises issues under article 26. The attention of the State
party has also been drawn to the various General Comments adopted
by the Committee.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
11. The Committee recommends that the State party
take appropriate measures to incorporate provisions of the Covenant
into domestic law and ensure that the Covenant be treated on an
equal footing with regional human rights instruments, both in legal
and practical terms.
12. In that context, the Committee recommends that
the Government of Iceland consider amending the national Constitution
in order to reflect adequately the provisions of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international human
rights treaties ratified by Iceland. In the meantime, the Committee
strongly recommends that the Covenant be included, by way of appropriate
amendments, in the draft law envisaging the incorporation of the
European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms into domestic law, at present before the Althing (Parliament),
or in a similar legislative act.
13. The Committee also recommends that the Government
reviews the continuing need for any reservation, with a view to
14. The Committee emphasizes that further measures
should be taken to ensure that the provisions of the Covenant are
more widely disseminated, particularly among the legal profession
and members of the judiciary.
15. The Committee strongly recommends that the reporting
obligations of the State party under article 40 of the Covenant
be strictly observed and that the third periodic report be submitted
within the time-limit to be determined by the Committee.