President makes a significant apology to victims of "restored honour" pedophile
Three young women, Glódís Tara Fannarsdóttir, Anna Katrín Snorradóttir and Halla Ólöf Jónsdóttir were invited to meet with Icelandic President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson at Bessastaðir residence today. The reason for this meeting was that the President wanted to apologize for the part he played in the "restoration of honour" to convicted sexual offender Robert Downey earlier this year.
Restored honour does not clear a person's criminal record, but it can restore former civil rights to that person, such as rights to work as a lawyer.
To apply for restored honour, a person has to apply and have three letters of recommendation. These are reviewed by the Ministry of Justice and then signed by the President.
The three young women played an enormous role in the social media revolution called #höfumhátt in Iceland which literally means "be loud" or speak out. It calls for victims of sexual abuse to speak out as the silence protects the perpetrators.
All three women were abused by Downey as young teenagers.
The case of Robert Downey's restored honour brought to light another case of a pedophile's restored honour, Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson who raped his daughter daily from the age of 5 until she was eighteen. It then appeared that Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson's father had signed a letter of recommendation for Hauksson to receive restored honour.
This disclosure caused the collapse of the government in September and a call for new elections.
The President contacted the women through Pirate Party MP Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir. "He wanted to meet wih us and apologize," says Anna Katrín speaking to mbl.is. "It was really surreal but we were excited to meet with him and we found it really honourable that he remembered us in the midst of the government coalition talks and that he was thinking about us and using his contacts to get in touch with us."
Asked about how formal the meeting was, Glódís Tara replied, "Formal or not formal, we were served pancakes and coffee and we discussed matters."
"Going to Bessastaðir is very formal and the reception was formal but the meeting was a very human one," said Halla Ólöf.
An apology from the president is very important, they say. "It's incredibly important to us and it's a confirmation of everything we've been fighting for," says Anna Katrín.
"I'm glad that he stepped forward, took responsability for his part in the matter and he made a very sincere apology. He said that signing such a document and being a part in such men receiving restored honour and to cause us such pain had been heavy on his mind. He wanted to personally apologize. And not just as a president, he is a father and a human being."
The three women want politicians to be inspired by the president's example. They say that until now politicians have "talked about them but not to us."
"Seeing as the President took time from his busy schedule to remember us and our fight, and remember why the government collapsed, we think others should follow his example and do so as well. It's an important matter that touches most Iceanders. We will not stop fighting, we will continue to be loud," says Anna Katrín.