Recommendations in the Annual Report to Parliament for 2023

The norwegian cover of NIMs annual report for 2023: «Menneskerettighetene i Norge 2023»

Each year, the Norwegian Human Rights Institution (NIM) focuses on some selected topics and issues that are highlighted in the Annual Report.1The recommendations are chosen on the basis of NIM’s criteria for prioritizing, based on NIM’s mandate enshrined in the NIM Act.

You can read the complete Annual Report in Norwegian here. 

NIM works with many different human rights issues and makes specific recommendations to the responsible authorities in various contexts, among others, in public hearings on laws and regulations which have human rights aspects.

The recommendations presented in the Annual Report to Parliament represent a small selection of issues that raise important human rights questions, to which NIM believes Parliament should pay particular attention.

NIM’s mandate is to promote and protect human rights in accordance with, i.a. the Constitution, the Human Rights Act, other legislation and international treaties binding on Norway. This sets the framework for the types of recommendations made by NIM. Sometimes human rights obligations require concrete actions from states. Human Rights conventions often establish more overarching objectives based on complex overall assessments. The reason is that human rights conventions bind many different states that have organised their national systems in different ways, and the legal obligations can be fulfilled through different political solutions.

NIM’s recommendations are therefore of a somewhat different nature. Some of them require a specific solution, while others express more overarching objectives. In order to maintain the distinction between law and politics, NIM is reluctant to make recommendations for very specific measures where human rights do not require a specific solution.

At the same time, it is NIM’s task to identify areas where we believe there is a risk of violations on the basis of relevant human rights developments. From time to time, NIM also makes recommendations that can contribute to a strengthened realisation of rights, even where this does not express clear legal obligations. However, NIM attempts to formulate clear distinctions between recommendations based on optimization of practice and recommendations relating to the risk of breach of binding obligations. In addition, NIM believes that it is important to point out areas that have not necessarily been clarified legally, but where we see legal developments that create a risk of violations.

Use of Coercive Measures in Elderly Care

NIM recommends:

Parliament should request the government to take measures to ensure that all compulsory health care for the elderly is carried out in accordance with human rights standards.

Parliament should thus request the Government to consider the need for temporary amendments to existing regulations, and if necessary, speed up the work on new legislation on limiting coercive measures. It is also important that health personnel acquire increased knowledge of human rights requirements, as well as sufficient resources and competence to safeguard key guarantees of due process.


The elderly’s right to health, autonomy, privacy, and protection against inhuman and degrading treatment must be better ensured. For example, many vulnerable elderly people are exposed to illegal use of force, which is serious.

Audits, research, and media reports show that the practice of compulsory health care on elderly people who are vulnerable, for example due to disabilities, including dementia, is in many cases not in line with human rights requirements. This applies both to the illegal use of coercion and to lack of routines for decisions, documentation, and follow-up.

In 2023, the government presented its new elderly reform. It addresses human rights challenges such as violence, malnutrition, and adverse drug use, but lacks measures aimed at combating illegal use of force in elderly care.2Meld. St. 24 (2022–2023) Fellesskap og meistring – Bu trygt heime.

Human rights do not prohibit compulsory health care but set out several substantive and procedural requirements for the use of coercion. Studies indicate that the practice of compulsory health care in nursing homes often does not satisfy these requirements. In a nationwide audit, the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision has found that the patients’ ability to provide consent and opposition to treatment are not always considered, that measures are not always taken to ensure voluntary participation, and that decisions are not always made when this is required.3Helsetilsynet, Framleis tvil om tvang: Oppsummering av landsomfattande tilsyn 2020-21 med tvungen somatisk helsehjelp i kommunale helse- og omsorgstjenester (Rapport nr. 1, 2023). The audit also found that the regulations on compulsory health care are not sufficiently understood and incorporated in the services, and that there is a great need for professional guidelines and competence enhancement.

According to the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision, this contributes to patients being subjected to illegal use of force. In addition, the patients’ legal protection is weakened, including the right to appeal, where no formal decisions are made. Several of the findings correspond with findings from the Parliamentary Ombud’s nursing home visits in the period 2020-2022.4Sivilombudet, Sivilombudets besøk til sykehjem 2020-2022: Oppsummering av de viktigste funnene (2022). In January 2023, NRK (the Norwegian broadcasting company) also uncovered serious conditions in Norwegian elderly care in the documentary series “Care behind closed doors”. NIM published a report in 2023 pointing out that the human rights situation of older people does not appear to have improved in recent years in several areas.5NIM, Eldres menneskerettigheter – På stedet hvil? (only available in Norwegian).(2023).

Furthermore, there are indications that the legislation itself does not fully safeguard against possible human rights violations. In 2019, the Coercive Law Commission made several recommendations on how the legislation can be strengthened, but this legislative work is still under consideration by the Ministry, and it is unclear when legislative amendments in this area will be proposed.

Crisis Centre Services for Vulnerable Groups

NIM recommends:

The Parliament must ensure that human rights are fulfilled to protect individuals against violence and abuse.

An important measure is that Parliament ensures that those belonging to vulnerable groups receive adequate, accessible, and equal crisis centre services.


The state has a human rights obligation to protect individuals against violence and abuse. This entails an obligation to offer a crisis centre service that is also adapted to vulnerable groups. NIM believes that the current crisis centre services do not fully meet this obligation.

Violence and abuse, and especially domestic violence, are both a social problem and a human rights problem. In 2023, 35 murder cases were recorded with 38 victims. This is the highest murder rate in Norway in ten years.6Kripos, Drap i Norge 2013-2023 – Nasjonal drapsoversikt (2023). 17 people were killed by a current or former partner or boyfriend. This is higher than the average for the last ten years. Reports also show that the incidence of domestic violence in Norway remains high.7NKVTS, Omfang av vold og overgrep i den norske befolkningen (2023).

Norway’s human rights obligation to protect its citizens against violence and abuse follows from the ECHR, the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, (CEDAW) and the Istanbul Convention. The authorities are obliged to ensure that victims of violence have access to assistance, and the Istanbul Convention requires, among other things, that there are sufficient and accessible crisis centres in the country.

Several reports show major shortcomings in the current crisis centre services, particularly for vulnerable groups. The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud (LDO) and NKVTS, (the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies), as well as the Office of the Auditor General, have pointed out major municipal differences in the provision of crisis centres and in the follow-up of the Crisis Centre Act, as well as the fact that the municipalities face challenges in providing services to those who are particularly at risk.8NKVTS og LDO, Kommunenes helhetlige arbeid med vold mot kvinner og vold i nære relasjoner (2021), Riksrevisjonen, Dokument 3:8 (2021-2022) Riksrevisjonens undersøkelse av myndighetenes innsats mot vold i nære relasjoner, pkt. 3.2.3. In the report from NKVTS and the Ombud, women with active substance abuse, victims with physical or mental disabilities, and victims in various minority groups are particularly highlighted.

NIM believes this is serious. According to the Partner Homicide Committee, in most partner homicide cases, intimate partner violence is registered in advance. The Commission emphasizes that crisis centres are one of the most important services for victims of violence, and that they can be an effective tool in the work to prevent partner homicide.9NOU 2020:17 Varslede drap? -Partnerdrapsutvalgets utredning

Norway has been criticised by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, (CEDAW) and the Istanbul Convention’s monitoring body GREVIO because the crisis centre services are inadequate. For example, there is a lack of a dedicated crisis centres aimed at the Sami population. The services offered to women with an immigrant background and women with disabilities are lacking, and the services offered to women with active substance abuse are very limited.10CEDAW, Concluding observations on the tenth periodic report of Norway, para 31 (g), GREVIOs first evaluation of Norway, para. 128.  

The Crisis Centre Act requires municipalities to provide crisis centre services that can be used by victims of violence. These regulations will be revised in 2024. It is important that the authorities implement effective measures, both legislatively and financially, in connection with the revision, to ensure adequate and equitable crisis centre services, with particular attention to vulnerable groups.11The Government has proposed certain measures related to the crisis centres in the escalation plan against violence and child abuse and domestic violence from 2023. NIM believes, however, that further measures are necessary.

Mentally Ill Inmates in Prison

NIM recommends:

The Parliament must ensure that the human rights of inmates with mental disorders in Norwegian prisons are safeguarded through systemic measures.

Parliament should ask the Government to present a bill making it compulsory that suicide attempts and suicides in prison should be investigated by the Correctional Services Oversight Board.


Prisoners have the same health rights as everyone else, but mentally ill inmates often do not have these rights safeguarded. This can result in suicide attempts and suicides, which the state has a human rights obligation to both prevent and investigate.

For a number of years, NIM has made recommendations to the authorities regarding prison inmates. These recommendations still apply.12See the recommendations in previous annual reports on this website. The prison conditions in Norwegian prisons entail a number of human rights challenges, particularly related to solitary confinement, coercive use and lack of care for persons with intellectual disabilities and mentally ill inmates. The problems have structural and economic causes, in addition to regulatory and policy deficiencies. Lack of social contact also exacerbates the challenges faced by inmates with mental disorders.13Sivilombudet, Selvmord og selvmordsforsøk i fengsel (2023)

The Government has implemented several measures, and the Parliament has strengthened funding for the correctional services.14Among other things, the allocations go to the purchase of safety equipment to ensure that the control measures are less intrusive and to the establishment of a nationally strengthened community department for women at Skien prison. However, the overriding problem can only be alleviated by ensuring that this group of inmates has better access to health services, better facilitation of incarceration, more social contact, more suitable buildings, and more thorough and ongoing assessments of inmates’ capacity to serve the prison sentence. This requires long-term measures and priorities that go beyond what the correctional services can solve alone.

A particular challenge is suicide attempts and suicides in Norwegian prisons. According to the Directorate of Correctional Services (KDI), seven persons committed suicide in Norwegian prisons in 2023. The number of suicide attempts during the same period was 125. The Parliamentary Ombud has identified clear deficiencies in both the correctional services’ suicide prevention and subsequent supervision.15In 2023, for example, a suicide was committed in Bredtveit prison. The Parliamentary Ombud subsequently prepared a report, “Selvmord og selvmordsforsøk I fengsel (2023), see also footnote 13.

In the case of suicide attempts and deaths in prison, where the right to life may be violated, the authorities shall, in accordance with human rights, ensure that either criminal procedural investigations or other effective remedies are available to next of kin.16Article 93 of the Constitution and Art. 2 ECHR on the right to life oblige the authorities to prevent suicide and investigate deaths and suicide attempts. Deaths should be investigated by an independent body.17The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has recommended that any death in prison be thoroughly investigated by an independent body and involve relatives.

The Execution of Sentences Act stipulates that the Supervisory Council may raise cases on its own initiative or at the request of prisoners or relatives. However, the Supervisory Council does not have a statutory duty to deal with such cases. This means that the recently adopted provisions of the Execution of Sentences Act on supervision do not fully safeguard human rights duties.

Rules should therefore be proposed to ensure that the Correctional Service notifies the Board of Supervisors of a suicide or attempted suicide while in prison, and that the notification triggers a duty of inquiry to the Board of Supervisors.

Climate and Indigenous Peoples

NIM recommends:

The Parliament must ensure that the Sami people’s right to cultural practice is safeguarded in the implementation of the green shift.

The Parliament should therefore request the Government to take measures to protect Sami rights both against climate change and against encroachments on nature that threaten these rights, through safeguarding Sami areas of use and through emission reductions in line with the 1.5°C target to prevent worsening of climate change in Sápmi.


The state must ensure the right to an environment that is conducive to health and to a natural environment whose productivity and diversity are maintained pursuant to Article 112 of the Constitution. At the same time, the green shift must not lead to violations of indigenous peoples’ right to cultural practice pursuant to Article 108 of the Constitution and Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Research shows that climate change in the Arctic is occurring more than three times faster than elsewhere in the world. This has a severe impact on indigenous peoples and their right to cultural practice because cultural practice is closely intertwined with, and dependent on, climate and nature.

Thus, the climate crisis is also an indigenous rights crisis because it destroys the natural basis for cultural practice. This applies, for example, to reindeer husbandry, through among other things, increased frequency of grazing crises.18For more details, see NIM’s report Canary in the Coal Mine (2024).

Indigenous peoples have human rights protection against encroachments that violate their right to cultural practice. This follows, among other things, from Article 27 of the SP, which takes precedence in Norwegian law. In the Fosen case, the Supreme Court found that this provision was violated. Learning from this case should form the basis for measures that can prevent new such cases. The right of indigenous peoples to effective participation in planning processes through consultations is a prerequisite for safeguarding these rights.

The authorities have a duty to implement adaptation measures to safeguard human rights. This entails a duty to remedy the significant negative impacts on cultural practice caused by climate change already now.

Practice from the UN Human Rights Committee shows that it is still unclear what obligations the authorities have under the CCPR to also avert the climate crisis through emission cuts, but the scientific reality is that in the long term, it will be very difficult to implement sufficient measures to adapt Sami cultural practice to climate change if the 1.5-degree target is not reached.

Human Rights and New Technology

NIM recommends:

Technology development and the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) require comprehensive and ongoing efforts to protect human rights. This requires efforts in the form of legal research, development of institutions, coordination of supervisory arrangements and measures to strengthen innovation.

The Parliament should therefore ask the Government to give priority to studies and research on how human rights can be safeguarded when the public sector implements rules on AI, and when AI is used.


In 2023, AI made its breakthrough. Although an increasing proportion of the population benefits from new technology and AI, this new technology challenges human rights in various ways: Advanced disinformation can weaken freedom of expression, partly because we can no longer distinguish between man-made and machine-generated information. AI can contribute to discrimination by reinforcing existing prejudices or creating new divisions. In addition, AI has an incalculable potential to violate the right to personal integrity, privacy and privacy.

The rapid technology development is giving ever greater power to the companies that develop and operate our digital infrastructure. So far, technology companies have been able to set the framework for digital activity in social media.  Since 2020, the EU has taken a leading regulatory role, and at the end of 2023, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union agreed on the world’s first law on the regulation of AI based on a risk-based approach. The Council of Europe is also working on a framework convention on AI and human rights.19For more information about the draft Framework Convention on AI, see: Such rules will help protect freedom of expression, privacy, and protection against discrimination, but it is uncertain when and how they will be implemented in Norway.

In NIM’s view, there is a significant “backlog” when it comes to assessing how the regulations should be effectively implemented in Norway. The establishment of a Ministry of Digitalisation is positive and a good starting point for implementing this work.

EU rules set out several institutional requirements that require structural thinking related to the tasks, mandates and resources of different supervisory bodies and coordination between them. Good control mechanisms are a prerequisite for good human rights compliance.20More recently, we have also seen the introduction of new surveillance powers and European legislation on large technology companies (especially DSA). This is in addition to the General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR).

It is also challenging to obtain an overview of both intended and unintended effects of AI and how AI is regulated. When AI rules are to be implemented in Norway, they will have an impact on a complex international legal patchwork, consisting of already adopted rules on the responsibility of platform companies,21Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA). combined with difficult and fragmented data protection rules, as well as human rights rules under ECHR and EEA law.

New rules require extensive work on facilitation and implementation, in a landscape that is very complex and difficult to access. It is not given that all the technology rules that have been developed to be implemented in all EU Member States will provide the optimal solution for the Norwegian reality. As far as NIM understands, this complicated work is at best at a very early stage.

The Government has announced that it will focus on research on AI and digital technology, and that it has set aside significant funds for this.22See the Government`s press release of 7 September 2023. It is stated that the research will have three main tracks: consequences for society, the technology itself, and the use of the technology for innovation in industry and the public sector. In NIM’s view, such research should also include the legal regulation, adaptation, and implementation in Norway. This will reduce the risk that the regulatory framework and implementation of AI in Norway will come in conflict with human rights in the short or medium term.

There are no simple answers to how Norway can facilitate a sound human rights framework for this technology, other than that it requires broad and comprehensive efforts across sectors and priority areas. However, a prerequisite is that planning does not come too late or with insufficient resources.