CountryType of Law 

Criminal Defamation

No provisions.

Criminal Defamation of Public Officials

No provisions.

Criminal Defamation of the Head of State

No provisions.

Criminal Defamation of the State and its Symbols

No provisions.

Criminal Defamation of Foreign Heads of State

No provisions.

Criminal Defamation of Foreign States and Symbols

Art. 184 of the Norwegian Criminal Code provides criminal liability for “actions of violence or threatening or insulting acts towards representatives of foreign states”. The penalty is a fine or imprisonment for up to one year.

Criminal Defamation of the Deceased

No provisions.

Criminal Blasphemy

No provisions.

Criminal Statistics


Criminal Defamation and Media

General notes

The Norwegian Criminal Code contains only one provision related to defamation and insult, namely, Art. 184 related to acts against representatives of foreign states. Prosecution under this provision does not require permission from the government.

While the objective aspect of this crime is considered to include insults to foreign heads of state or other representatives of foreign states, experts suggest that it is unlikely that this provision, when read together with protections for freedom of expression in the Norwegian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, would be invoked to prosecute such insults. Preparatory works for this provision show that the primary aim is to protect foreign state representatives visiting Norway.

Recent Legal Changes

A new criminal code came into effect in Norway on 1 October 2015, after having been approved in 2005. The new code introduced sweeping changes to Norwegian defamation law, repealing virtually all forms of criminal defamation insult, including lèse-majesté provisions .

Notes and Acknowledgements

Information for Norway was originally collected by IPI as part of a study commissioned by the Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It is reprinted here with the permission of the OSCE.

A fully footnoted version of this entry is available in the OSCE study. This entry was last updated in March 2017.

The information contained in this database is for informational and advocacy purposes only. If you are a journalist facing a defamation claim, you should seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. However, if you are unable to find such an attorney, IPI may be able to assist you in doing so. Please contact us at info(at)

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