‘We Got Lucky with the Judge’: Access to Justice for Disabled Women in Iceland
2. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Our Underpinning Human Rights Approach
2.1. Article 6—Women and Girls with Disabilities
2.2. Article 16—Freedom from Exploitation, Violence and Abuse
2.3. Article 13—Access to Justice
4. Relevant Icelandic Law and Justice Structures
4.1. Act on the Protection of the Rights of Disabled Persons (2011), No. 88/2011 (PRDP Act)
4.2. Code of Criminal Procedure (2008), No 88/2008: Removal of Perpetrator from the Courtroom (Art. 166)
4.3. State Prosecutor’s Guidelines no 3/2018
5.1. Mary’s Case
5.2. Procedural and Reasonable Accommodations
“We went over what is going to happen and why are we here and who are the people you are going to meet, how is it going to be, where are you going to sit, do you want me to be with you and I explained my role in this, and if she wanted a break or if she needed some kind of assistance.”
“…if she wanted to know what the people looked like who were going to be in the court room, and she wanted that, so we got pictures of the people that were there, and then went to take a look at the courtroom before. So, she knew where she was going, how it is going to look like, who is going to be there.”
5.3. Factors Contributing to Mary’s Positive Experience of Accessing Justice
5.3.1. The Consistency and Credibility of Mary’s Evidence
“… for her part, she did a great job there, … and she was very consistent, her testimony was very consistent with what she had said to the police earlier. She has a good memory, and she benefits from that, or the case benefits from that… it makes a difference.”
5.3.2. A Spokesperson as a Procedural Accommodation
5.3.3. The Willingness of Individual Justice System Workers to Make Accommodations
“I just called the judge and I said: ‘Can you accommodate us to see the court and the courtroom’ and she said ‘of course’ and she came herself so Mary was familiar with her, talked to her, and got to know her and she saw the court staff and everything like that. We were very lucky with a judge! She was very accommodating and understanding.”
“I think it is first and foremost to get the best testimony possible that you can get in these difficult conditions … anything we can do to just get a good testimony, and of course that is to make the witness as comfortable as you can…it is very important to prepare… if we are going to serve justice then we have to have this right.”
5.3.4. The Defendant’s Lack of Social Connections and Networks
“Because we are a really small country you know, everyone knows everyone in some way or another, you speak for five minutes, and you know that your cousin is the friend of his best friend. Something like that. Always some connection. So, that makes it harder I think, for us to keep people accountable. It goes through all layers of society. Just as much with people working on the ground in services and also politicians. I think this has a huge effect on how we deal with difficult situations.”
5.4. Inadequate Implementation of the Training Obligations in the PRDP Act
“We are now training our police officers more in that sense, but we didn’t before, and we are not training them enough; we are training police officers in how to interview suspects who have autism or other mental disabilities, but we are not focused enough on training police officers in interviewing victims with disabilities; they have some but not enough.”
“I think the way people are treated or the way we are trying to accommodate people is dependent on who is the judge…unfortunately…that is sometimes the case. … some are more open to accommodating disabled persons according to the disability act and the rules or the guidelines that were set, as opposed to others that just want to follow the rule of law and the wording of the law.”
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Gjecaj, E.; Lawson, A.; Traustadóttir, R.; Rice, J.G. ‘We Got Lucky with the Judge’: Access to Justice for Disabled Women in Iceland. Laws 2023, 12, 21. https://doi.org/10.3390/laws12020021
Gjecaj E, Lawson A, Traustadóttir R, Rice JG. ‘We Got Lucky with the Judge’: Access to Justice for Disabled Women in Iceland. Laws. 2023; 12(2):21. https://doi.org/10.3390/laws12020021Chicago/Turabian Style
Gjecaj, Eliona, Anna Lawson, Rannveig Traustadóttir, and James Gordon Rice. 2023. "‘We Got Lucky with the Judge’: Access to Justice for Disabled Women in Iceland" Laws 12, no. 2: 21. https://doi.org/10.3390/laws12020021