Ombudsman calls time on Sami discrimination

Peter Vinthagen Simpson
Peter Vinthagen Simpson - [email protected] • 6 Jul, 2008 Updated Sun 6 Jul 2008 12:28 CEST
Ombudsman calls time on Sami discrimination

The Sami people of northern Sweden are routinely subjected to discrimination and their rights disregarded, a new report from the Ombudsman against ethnic discrimination (DO) shows.


Ombudsman Katri Linna argues that the only way to counter the widespread discrimination of the Sami is to increase their participation in the national community and raise their influence.

Sami culture and traditions are often used by local and county councils in their marketing and for tourism purposes, at the same time as their rights are routinely disregarded, the report argues.

Mother tongue classes in school corridors after school hours, bureaucratic procedures characterized by assimilation thinking and negative prejudices are typical of the humiliations that many Sami have to deal with in their everyday lives, the report states.

"Samis are not met as individuals, they are categorized according to prejudices and notions of them as a group," said Linna.

The report shows, for example, that many university-educated Sami are urged to apply for jobs as tourist guides, purely because of their ethnicity.

The power and influence of the Sami must be improved, argues Linna. The Sami have special rights in their position as an indigenous people and national minority, she adds. Authorities should consult with Sami groups to ensure their participation and influence in issues that affect them, the ombudsman argues.

Kartri Linna hopes that more Sami will be encourage to report cases of discrimination against them and has urged the government to act to address the situation.

"At some point the government has to get a grip of the issue and come to the realization that it will actually require money to solve the question of the rights of the Sami."

The ombudsman's report recommends strong measures to raise the status of the Sami languages. The government is urged to take measures to encourage the training of Sami teachers and the development of teaching aids.

Furthermore it is argued that Sami rights need to be ensured by conducting a comprehensive consultation process between local municipalities and authorities with Sami groups.

The Ombudsman suggests finally that effective sanctions need to be developed to complement existing anti-discrimination legislation and an independent supervisory body should be set up to ensure that the Sami are actually given the rights that their status as an indigenous people and national minority deserves.


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