Here you will find information about where to turn if you need guidance, advice or legal assistance, as well as national and international complaint mechanisms.
If you need guidance, please first read the information you find on this page. If you cannot find what you are looking for, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What can NIM do and not do?
NIM’s task is to promote and protect human rights in Norway in accordance with the Norwegian Constitution, the Human Rights Act and other legislation, international treaties and international law in general. One of our tasks is also to inform about human rights and advise individuals on national and international complaint mechanisms.
NIM shall not process or provide legal aid in individual cases concerning violations of human rights. This follows from the Act relating to the Norwegian Human Rights Institution, (the NIM Act). This means that NIM is not a complaint body for human rights violations, and we cannot process complaints ourselves.
NIM can help you with this:
- Inform about human rights
- Provide guidance about complaint mechanisms
- Inform about who you can contact
NIM cannot help you with this:
- Consider/Process your case or assess whether you have been subjected to a human rights violation
- Consider whether others can take a position on your case
- Contact other agencies for you
National complaint mechanisms
You should try to resolve the issue directly with the body you believe does not comply with human rights. If this is not successful, a complaint can normally be made to another body. The list below is not exhaustive.
- Appellate bodies:
- The municipality: In some cases, the municipality is the appellate body. You have the right to appeal against individual decisions made by the municipality. In the decision, it is stated to whom the complaint should be directed. If you are unsure, the municipality has a duty to inform you about the appeal possibilities.
- The County Governor: The County Governor (Statsforvalteren), processes appeals against decisions made by the municipalities in several areas, such as health and care, school/education and child protection. Here is a link to information about appeal to the County Governor: Klage til Statsforvalteren | Statsforvalteren.no
- The courts: In specific cases, human rights violations can also be brought before the courts. If you want to bring a case before the courts, you can contact your local district court. The courts have a duty to provide guidance.
- The Discrimination Board: The Discrimination Board deals with complaints concerning discrimination and harassment. Here is a link to more information about the board: www.diskrimineringsnemnda.no
- The Civil (Parliamentary) Ombud: The Civil Ombud investigates complaints from citizens who claim to have been subjected to injustice or errors on the part of the public administration. Before you complain to the Civil Ombud, you must have used the complaints procedures in public administration. More information can be found here: www.sivilombudet.no/en/klage-til-sivilombudet/
- Immigration Administration: If you are an asylum seeker or refugee in Norway and need advice or guidance, there are separate schemes. You will find more information about this on the last page of this document.
- The Special Unit for Police Matters: The task of the Special Unit for Police Matters is to investigate cases where there is a question as to whether employees of the police or prosecuting authority have committed criminal offences in the line of duty.
International complaint mechanisms
If all national remedies have been exhausted, including judicial review in Norway, the case may be brought before the international complaint mechanisms that Norway has accepted, such as the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) or the UN Human Rights Committee. The ECtHR is the only international appeal mechanism that issues legally binding decisions, to which the state has an obligation to comply.
The European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) European Court of Human Rights – ECHR, CEDH, news, information, press releases (coe.int), considers violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It is primarily individuals, companies or other private parties who file complaints against states before the ECtHR. In principle, a Member State may lodge a complaint against another Member State, but this option is by far not used as often as the individual complaints.
If you wish to make a complaint against a state before the ECtHR, you must file a complaint. The complaint form and instructions for completing the complaint are available on the court’s website. In order for the ECtHR to consider the complaint, certain conditions must be met. Therefore, it is important to keep the following in mind before submitting a complaint:
- All national remedies must have been exhausted. This means that one must first take the case through the existing administrative appeal mechanisms, or, where they do not exist, before an ordinary Norwegian district court, and possibly appeal the case to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. It is only if the appeal process in Norwegian courts is not upheld, or if an appeal process is rejected in Norwegian courts, that the case can be brought before the ECtHR.
- The complaint must be submitted to the ECtHR within four months of the final decision in Norwegian courts.
- The ECtHR only assesses whether the state has violated one or more of the human rights in the ECHR. That is to say, one must refer to one of the rights in the ECHR in order for the court to consider handling the complaint, and as a general rule, this must also have been invoked before the Norwegian courts when they dealt with the case.
Here is a link to Information in Norwegian about the procedure for appealing to the ECtHR, and more. Applicants Norwegian (coe.int)
The information is also available in most other European languages. An overview of information about ECtHR complaints in languages other than Norwegian can be found here: How to apply to the ECHR-Translations, information for applicants (coe.int)
Other international mechanisms
Norway has accepted the complaint mechanisms for four of the UN’s core conventions on Human Rights and two of the Council of Europe’s conventions.
- The UN Human Rights Committee considers violations of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: Human Rights Committee | OHCHR
- The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women assesses violations of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women | OHCHR
- The UN Committee against Torture considers violations of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment: Committee against Torture | OHCHR
- The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers violations of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination: Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination | OHCHR
- The European Committee of Social Rights monitors the implementation by European countries of the revised European Social Charter (Social Charter) adopted by the Council of Europe: The European Social Charter – Social Rights (coe.int)
Decisions by the various UN committees ( and decisions by the Committee of Social Rights), are formally not legally binding, but states often comply with the decisions made by these committees.
Norway has not joined the individual complaint mechanisms under the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities or the UN Convention for the Protection against Enforced Disappearance. You are therefore not entitled to lodge a complaint against Norway under the complaint mechanisms of these conventions.
What is required for your appeal to be considered?
All international complaint mechanisms have their own rules for handling complaints. It is therefore important to familiarise yourself with the deadlines for filing a complaint, what conditions must be met in order for the complaint to be considered, and how the complaint should be formally formulated before any complaint is submitted. For most of the international complaint mechanisms, however, some basic principles apply:
- You must first have attempted to assert your claim in all appeal bodies available in Norway, including the courts. In practice, this usually means that you must have appealed your case all the way to the Supreme Court.
- You must be able to clearly demonstrate that you have experienced a violation of a human right protected by a convention to which Norway is a party and to which Norway has accepted the complaints procedure. You can find information as to which conventions these are above.
- You must submit your complaint as soon as possible. Some appellate bodies require you to bring your case within four months of it being last processed in Norway.
- The complaint must be in writing and signed by you as the complainant.
Further information on the procedure for complaints to the UN complaint mechanisms can be found here: Individual Communications | OHCHR This information is in English. You cannot lodge a complaint in several UN complaint mechanisms at the same time. You can still try to appeal to a new body afterwards, if your appeal is rejected or has a negative outcome.
Appealing a case to an international complaint mechanism can be challenging. NIM recommends everyone to seek legal advice and guidance before making a decision to appeal a case to the international complaint mechanisms.
Information about where you can turn for legal assistance can be found further down in this document.
Compensation arrangements if you have been the victim of a violation
If you have been the victim of a human rights violation, you may in some cases be entitled to compensation. The State’s Civil Law Administration is responsible for a number of these compensation schemes. Erstatningsordninger (sivilrett.no)
Advice or legal assistance
- There are a number of lawyers who provide legal assistance in Norway. The Norwegian Bar Association has created an online service that helps you find the right lawyer, and provides advice on what to prepare for before going to a lawyer. There is also an overview of Advokatvakten, which is a free service that can be found in several places in the country where you can get up to 30 minutes of free legal assistance. Advokaten hjelper deg – en tjeneste fra Advokatforeningen
- Oslo Municipality offers free legal aid to all residents of Oslo who need legal advice. Everyone receives up to 30 minutes of free advice from a lawyer, who will assess whether your case can be processed further there or referred further. Legal assistance beyond this depends on whether you are entitled to free legal aid. The service can be found at Kontoret for Fri rettshjelp – Alle tilbud i Oslo – Oslo kommune
- There are also voluntary organisations that provide legal aid. For example, Gatejuristen provides free legal aid to people with substance abuse problems in several Norwegian cities. Through the project, Ung rettshjelp (Young Legal Aid), Gatejuristen also provides free legal aid to children and young people under the age of 25. More information about this can be found on Gatejuristen – gratis rettshjelp til folk som har eller har hatt rusproblemer – Kirkens Bymisjon and Ung rettshjelp – Gatejuristen – Kirkens Bymisjon
- The legal aid centre of Kirkens Bymisjon (The Church’s City Mission) Rettshjelpsentralen – fri rettshjelp – Kirkens Bymisjon offers free legal aid in individual cases. They accept new cases by phone, or by personal attendance at St. Hanshaugen every Wednesday from 17:00-19:00. The legal aid initiative is run by volunteer lawyers.
- NOAS provides free legal aid in asylum cases. All asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) or the Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) can have their asylum case assessed by NOAS. You can read more about this on Slik jobber vi – NOAS
- DiMe is a low-threshold legal aid and mediation service that offers free legal assistance for people living in Oslo and Bergen. DimeNorge | Diskrimineringshjelpen og Meglingsbenken
- There are also five national legal aid initiatives run by law students. Some of these may have income limits. There is information about this on their website:
- Jussbuss is run by law students in Oslo and provides free legal aid to individuals in the areas of employment law, prison law, debt law, tenancy law, environmental law, social law, social security law and immigration law. Forsiden – Jussbuss (uio.no)
- Jussformidlingen is run by law students in Bergen and provides legal assistance to individuals regardless of place of residence in a number of subject areas. Jussformidlingen – Gratis rettshjelp til privatpersoner
- Jushjelpa Midt-Norge and Jushjelpa Nord-Norge are also run by law students and provide legal assistance to those who need it most in the areas of housing and tenancy law, administrative law, inheritance and family, employment law and contract law. Juridisk rådgivning og rettshjelp – Jushjelpa.no
- JURK – Legal Advice for Women offers legal aid throughout Norway to all who define themselves as women. Juridisk rådgivning for kvinner – JURK (uio.no)
Free legal aid
Free legal aid is legal assistance that is wholly or partly covered by the state. Free legal aid includes both free legal advice and free litigation. Free legal advice is guidance and assistance in legal matters outside of court proceedings. Free litigation is legal aid in cases that go before the courts. In order to be eligible for free legal aid, you must have a gross income that is below the income threshold in the Legal Aid Act. As of January 2023, the income threshold for single people is NOK 350,000, and the income threshold for spouses and cohabitants is NOK 540,000. The asset threshold is NOK 150,000. In some cases, the County Governor and the courts may make exceptions to the rules on income and asset thresholds. More information on the websites of the County Governor and the Civil Law Administration:
Other guidance and advice
There are a number of organisations that provide advice and guidance on human rights in various fields. These are some examples of such organisations – the list here is not exhaustive.
- Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud: The Ombud provides guidance on, among other things, the anti-discrimination regulations, guidance on where and how to complain about discrimination, and can provide input on how you can resolve your case on your own. www.ldo.no
- Ombud for Children: The Ombud does not deal with complaints, but both children and adults can receive advice and guidance on children’s rights. www.barneombudet.no/
- Ombud for Patients: The Ombud can assist patients, users of health services and relatives with advice, guidance and assistance in their encounters with the health services. www.pasientogbrukerombudet.no
- Amnesty International Norway: Amnesty International is the world’s largest human rights organisation. The organisation uses campaigns and activism to put pressure on authorities that violate human rights. In addition, the organisation teaches human rights and publishes annual reports on the status of human rights in various countries. www.amnesty.no
- The Helsinki Committee: The Helsinki Committee is a non-profit organisation that monitors, reports and teaches about human rights. In Norway, the committee works with many thematic areas, such as racism and discrimination, rule of law and prison conditions, minority issues, and refugee and asylum policy. www.nhc.no/en/frontpage
- Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers: NOAS is an independent, non-profit organisation working for the rights of asylum seekers. The organisation assists asylum seekers with information, advice and legal assistance. NOAS provides general information on, among other things, the asylum procedure and criteria for asylum. They also offer legal aid to asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected. www.noas.no/en
- Save the Children (Redd Barna): A non-profit organisation working to achieve equal rights for all children, both in Norway and internationally. www.reddbarna.no
- Norwegian Federation of Organisations of Disabled People (FFO) Legal Rights Centre (Funksjonshemmedes Fellesorganisasjons Rettighetssenter): FFO’s Legal Rights Centre is an advisory and competence centre on rights issues concerning persons with disabilities and chronic illnesses. The centre answers and registers inquiries from disabled and chronically ill persons, relatives and others by phone and email. The centre also offers educational material on welfare law, and also has a youth portal specifically aimed at young disabled people’s rights in areas such as education, finance, housing, support schemes and working life. www.ffo.no/rettighetssenteret/
Support in a difficult situation
Difficult and problematic situations also arise without necessarily having anything to do with the state’s duty to protect your human rights. If you need to talk to someone, here are some places where it is possible:
- Kirkens SOS (Church SOS) – 24-hour crisis hotline: 22 40 00 40
- Mental Health – 24-hour helpline: 116 123
- Emergency telephone for children and young people: 116 111
- VO line is a free and anonymous helpline for those who experience violence or abuse in close relationships: 116 006
Information for asylum seekers/refugees
If you are an asylum seeker or refugee in Norway and need advice or guidance, you can contact the Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers (NOAS). NOAS provides both guidance and can offer free legal aid. All asylum seekers whose application has been rejected by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) or the Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) can have their asylum case assessed by NOAS. You can read more about this at www.noas.no/om/
The Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) is a free and independent body that handles complaints in immigration and citizenship cases that have been processed by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI). You can read more about UNE on https://www.une.no/en/