People who are deprived of their liberty are in a particularly vulnerable situation. They face an increased risk of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. The Storting has assigned the Parliamentary Ombudsman a special responsibility for investigating how the rights of people who are deprived of their liberty are safeguarded and for preventing abuse.
Since 2014, the Parliamentary Ombudsman has been tasked with visiting places of detention in order to prevent torture and inhuman treatment of people who are deprived of their liberty. The Parliamentary Ombudsman has established a dedicated national preventive mechanism to work specifically on this issue. Visiting places of detention is a key part of this work. Dialogue and national and international cooperation is also important in the preventive work.
Visits to places of detention
All people shall be protected against torture and acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The Parliamentary Ombudsman has a right to visit all facilities where someone is, or could be, deprived of their liberty. This includes police custody facilities, prisons, mental health care institutions, police immigration detention centres and child welfare institutions. The visits can be announced or unannounced.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman has access to all facilities where people are deprived of their liberty and to all information of relevance to the conditions under which people are detained. During the visits, emphasis is placed on interviewing detained persons. In addition, the National Preventive Mechanism inspects the premises and talks to the management, staff and other involved parties.
Following each visit, a visit report is written that describes the findings and any risk factors identified during the visit. The report contains the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s recommendations on how to reduce the risk of people deprived of their liberty being subjected to torture and inhuman treatment.
National dialogue and international collaboration
Effective preventive work requires a holistic approach. In addition to regular visits to facilities where people are deprived of their liberty, the Parliamentary Ombudsman engages in extensive dialogue with national authorities, civil society and international human rights bodies.
Raising public awareness is also an important part of the National Preventive Mechanism’s work. In order to give the general public greater insight into the conditions for people deprived of their liberty and to provide information about findings and recommendations, all visit reports and the response letters from the corresponding institutions are published on the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s website. The National Preventive Mechanism also gives presentations and participates in panels upon invitation.