The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) is an Oslo-based, internationally oriented human rights organisation. We support local human rights initiatives in the countries where we are engaged, run projects to document and fight impunity for gross violations of human rights and core international crimes and work with networks of Parliamentarians that promote freedom of religion or belief. We advocate fundamental freedoms, democratic principles, and the rule of law.
The NHC uses various methods, such as monitoring human rights violations, observing elections, developing documentation databases, education, and advocating for national governments and international organisations to place human rights first. We provide expert commentary to the media and submit alternative reports to relevant international human rights reviews. Through social media, we increase popular awareness, garner the political will to confront abuse, and increase respect for human rights.
A significant part of our activities is devoted to strengthening human rights organisations and defenders, whistle-blowers, journalists, and lawyers in Central and Eastern Europe and the five Central Asian republics. We pay particular attention to individuals, groups and networks that are at risk.
Many of our activities take place in authoritarian states, where government policies and legislation restrict freedom of organisation, expression, assembly, religion, or belief, as well as rights to free and fair elections. The judiciary and media outlets in such states are under the control of the government.
Since 2010, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has cooperated with the international Magnitsky campaign led by Bill Browder. The campaign's main aim is to influence democratic governments to apply Magnitsky sanctions against officials involved in serious human rights violations or corruption with impunity. Such sanctions impose an entry ban, freeze assets, exclude targeted persons from financial services, etc.
In 2021, the Norwegian Parliament adopted legislation permitting the government to impose targeted sanctions against human rights violators on certain conditions. In this report, we present the Sanctions Act and argue that the Government can apply it more proactively than is currently the case.
We thank the Norwegian law company Wikborg Rein, which pro bono conducted the legal analysis for the report.