Constitutional Provisions

The 1944 Constitution of Iceland (as amended) does not explicitly protect the right to lifeThe 2011 draft of a new Constitution explicitly protects the right to life from birth.although it excludes the death penaltyArt. 69, 1944 Constitution of Iceland (as amended).and it is stipulated that:

No one may be subjected to torture or any other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.Art. 68, 1944 Constitution of Iceland (as amended).

The Constitution further provides that:

People are free to assemble unarmed. Public gatherings may be attended by police. Public gatherings in the open may be banned if it is feared that riots may ensue.Art. 74, 1944 Constitution of Iceland (as amended). 

The Constitution does not otherwise refer to the police.

Iceland is in the process of drafting a new Constitution.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 State Party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints Yes
CAT Optional Protocol 1 Signatory
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court State Party

Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties
1950 European Convention on Human Rights State Party

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

Use of force by the Icelandic Police is governed by the 1996 Police Act (as amended). Article 14 of the Act provides that:

Those who exercise police authority may use force in the course of executing their duties. At no time, however, may they use force to a greater extent than is necessary on each given occasion.

The Icelandic Police do not routinely carry firearms.

As of August 2018, police in Iceland were said to be prioritising which calls to actually send officers to respond to, owing to a shortage of both staff and funding. There are no Icelandic armed forces.

Police Oversight

The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police (NCIP) has issued an action plan on Gender Equality within the Police which aims at promoting equality and equal opportunities for men and women regarding professional development and representation irrespective of sex, sexual orientation, social standing or race. 



Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

There has been no recent review of the actions of the Icelandic Police by a United Nations treaty body.


There has been no case alleging excessive use of force by the Iceland Police before the European Court of Human Rights.


In 2013, a 59-year old man with a history of mental illness was shot and killed by police in December 2013. The man had opened fire at police when they entered his building. This was the first time a person had been killed by armed police in Iceland since it became an independent republic in 1944.

In 2017, two capital area police officers were charged with excessive use of force for their actions during an arrest which left one man with a double leg fracture.


1944 Constitution of Iceland (as amended)

2011 Draft Constitution of Iceland

1996 Police Act of Iceland