Main Menu
Human Trafficking
Street Children

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                        


Iceland's Scandinavian-type social-market economy combines a capitalist structure and free-market principles with an extensive welfare system, including generous housing subsidies. Prior to the 2008 crisis, Iceland had achieved high growth, low unemployment, and a remarkably even distribution of income.

A protracted recession is expected in 2009 and 2010 with GDP likely to contract and unemployment likely to surpass 10%.

Iceland's coalition government collapsed in January 2009 following protests over growing joblessness and losses to personal savings.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Iceland

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Iceland.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Iceland

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 25 July 2021]


The constitution and law prohibit such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.


On January 28, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) released its report on four prisons it inspected in May 2019. The report noted generally very satisfactory physical conditions but stated that interprisoner violence was a problem at Litla-Hraun Prison and that it was clearly related to the presence of drugs inside the establishment. The CPT concluded that the problem of alcohol and drug addiction continued to be one of the major challenges facing the prison system and drew attention to prisoners’ limited access to psychiatric care and psychological assistance. The report also found that remand prisoners on court-ordered isolation at Akureyri Prison continued to be accommodated in a windowless cell.

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Iceland

Executive Summary, 28 January 2020

[accessed 31 May 2020]

POLICE ESTABLISHMENTS -- The delegation received no allegations –and found no other indications –of ill-treatment of persons deprived of liberty by the police. The Committee concludes that, as during its previous visits, persons in police custody in Iceland run little risk of being ill-treated.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/ISL/CO/3 (2008)

[accessed 1 March 2013]

Definition of torture and criminalization

5. While noting the explanations provided by the State party in its second and third periodic reports and in the written replies to the list of issues with regard to the interpretation of the definition of torture and its use in domestic criminal legislation, the Committee regrets that no change has taken place with regard to the State party’s position not to fully incorporate the definition of torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention, nor to incorporate torture as a specific crime into domestic criminal legislation (arts. 1 and 4).

The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation, namely that the definition of torture according to article 1 of the Convention be introduced into Icelandic criminal legislation in order to ensure that all elements of torture are included, and that torture be defined as a specific offence in domestic laws.  The Committee also draws the attention of the State party to its general comment No. 2 on the implementation of article 2

Solitary confinement

9. The Committee is concerned about the reported cases of frequent and excessive use of solitary confinement for persons in custody (art. 11).

The State party should investigate promptly the issue of excessive use of solitary confinement and adopt effective measures to prevent such practice.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 2 January 2019]

Scroll Down


Human Rights Reports » 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 25, 2009

[accessed 31 January 2013]

[accessed 7 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The constitution and law prohibit such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Iceland

Strasbourg, 5 December 2013  -- [Report URL ]

[accessed 23 Jan 2014]

[accessed 27 July 2017]

Most of the persons with recent experience of police custody who were interviewed by the CPT’s delegation stated that they had been treated in a correct manner. The conclusion reached by the Committee after its previous visits – namely that persons detained by the police in Iceland run little risk of being ill-treated – remains valid. As for conditions of detention in the police establishments visited, they were generally adequate.

As regards prisons, the CPT received hardly any allegations of deliberate physical ill-treatment of prisoners by staff. That said, the Committee highlights in its report a number of principles and minimum standards which should be complied with on those rare occasions when means of restraint have to be applied to a prisoner.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES. 

Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Iceland",, [accessed <date>]