Peaceful Assembly

The Constitution’s Article 74 also protects the freedom of peaceful assembly, but specifies that the police may attend public gatherings, and open-air gatherings may be banned if there is a fear of rioting. There have been occasional failures to realise this right: in 2002, US Falun Gong followers were banned from travelling to Iceland to take part in a protest during a Chinese presidential violence, and in 2005, there were some reports of police violence against protesters trying to halt the construction off the Kárahjúkar hydro plant. In the main, however, Iceland’s strong protest tradition, which has often involved the holding of large scale, noisy demonstrations outside the parliament building, has continued unabated. In 2015, 10,000 people joined in protests after Iceland’s prime minister was implicated in the Panama Papers revelations; the prime minister subsequently resigned. Later that year, thousands of women walked out of work and gathered outside parliament to protest at the gender pay gap. Historically, the government intervened on a number of occasions to block or temporarily ban strikes of workers in key industries, such as aviation and fishing, despite the constitutional right to strike. However, there now seems to be a cross-party agreement that the government should allow strikes, and many took place in 2015. There was mass participation in a constitutional reform process that started in 2009 and used crowdsourcing techniques to enable direct citizen voice, but after the draft was approved in a 2012 referendum, it was blocked by parliament.