Finding the facts

We document human rights violations so that the guilty can be punished.

Natalia Estemirova Documentation Centre

Has a unique database with information on violations in Chechnya that is coordinated from The Norwegian Helsinki Committee in Oslo.

  • Has gathered 520.000 documents
  • Has 66.766 filed victim profiles
  • Has 5.549 registered incidents

Members of the international community commit to respecting and safeguarding human rights by their membership of the United Nations, the Council of Europe and other international organisationsIn addition, these member states also agree on international conventions that protect human rights and set humanitarian standards. However, too often these obligations are being set aside. 

This is what we do ensure accountability for crimes:  

  • We document flaws in judicial systems and police forces and the violations of human rights committed by both. Too often we see corrupt police officers and politicians attack activists and journalists who reveal their crimes. 
  • We document how authoritarian states attack fundamental freedoms, such as the right to meet and organise. 
  • We document how weak democracies galvanize their power by arresting political opponents, censoring the media and tampering with election results. 
  • We document individual cases of abuse to support investigations and prosecutions under universal jurisdiction. Universal jurisdiction allows states or international organisations to claim criminal jurisdiction over an accused person regardless of where the alleged crime was committed. 
  • We document war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

Read more about our methodology here.

Documentation Centre 

The areas in which these human rights violations occur can often be both dangerous and difficult, when trying to gain an overview of who ordered and executed the crimes.  

An important commitment in combating this barrier, is the establishment of the Natalia Estemirova Documentation Centre, which collects, analyses and makes available, evidence of humanitarian and human rights violations in the North Caucasus. A similar project addresses the Ukraine conflict.

In these projects, we cooperate with the Case Matrix Network on IT solutions. This ensures the efficient processing of large amounts of information through the utilisation of effective documentation methods. 


We document individual cases of abuse to support investigations and prosecutions under universal jurisdiction.  Universal jurisdiction allows states or international organisations to claim criminal jurisdiction over an accused person regardless of where the alleged crime was committed.

Natalia Estemirova was a Russian human rights activist and journalist, documenting abuses in Chechnya.

Some states have established the capacity and competence to do so. In Norway, there have been several such issues, amongst other things, against people from Bosnia, Herzegovina and Rwanda.   

When exercising universal jurisdiction, the documentation provided must be composed of evidence that named individuals are responsible for international crimes, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and torture. 

The use of Magnitsky sanctions: 

Magnitsky sanctions for gross human rights violations, have been introduced in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Baltic states. These sanctions provide new opportunities for going after individuals who have committed gross human right violations. When applying the various magnitsky laws, the documentation must provide evidence that an official has committed corruption or gross human rights abuses against whistle-blowers or human rights defenders.

On November 16, 2009, the bruised body of Sergei Magnitsky was found on the floor of a prison cell. The 37-year-old tax law expert had been in prison for nearly a year after whistle-blowing about extensive tax fraud implicating government officials.


A classic report on human rights violations consists of two main elements. Firstly, a report provides a description of the abused faced by a victim at the hands of governmental agencies.  As well as providing a description of human right violations, a report aims to appeal to the state in question to hold accountable those guilty.  

However, the documentation of core international crimes goes further. In addition to providing evidence of abuse, one must also document which individuals are most responsible for or committed the abuse. The same applies to documentation of gross human rights violations for targeted sanctions (“Magnitsky sanctions”). 

Documentation work is demanding and often takes a long time but is one of the most important ways to promote more respect for human rights. Penalties for gross abuse provide the basis for new abuse.

Read more about our work


Our work with Human Rights

Read article "Keeping the embers alive"


Learning peace

We educate teenagers to become the next generation of human rights defenders.

Read article "Learning peace"


Asylum policies

It is our job to defend people’s fundamental human right to seek asylum from persecution.

Read article "Asylum policies"