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Sami village wins court battle and compensation from Swedish state

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Sami village wins court battle and compensation from Swedish state
A Sami reindeer herd. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
08:21 CET+01:00
A Sami village has won a court battle with the Swedish state over hunting and fishing rights in its territory, being awarded significant compensation in the process.

The Swedish Court of Appeal decided that the Sami village of Girjas now has what is described as "a better right" to determine hunting and fishing in its territory, but not the "sole right" to manage hunting and fishing permissions independently of the state. 

The village still has to work together with the state and be in agreement with the local county government, according to the verdict. Sami villages are cooperatives that organize reindeer herding within specific geographical areas – there are 51 in Sweden.

The verdict may not be entirely perfect for Girjas, but the court has also ordered the losing party – the Swedish state – to pay the village approximately four million kronor ($499,800).

The state was represented by Attorney General Anna Skarhed, who told TT that she did not see how this judgement would have any practical implications for the village’s right to determine their hunting and fishing rights on their own, which is what the village had wanted.

The Sami village of Girjas has been to court on several occasions over the village’s right to determine hunting and fishing in the territory. In 2016, Girjas won its first court case against the Swedish state, providing the village with the right to have a say in fishing and hunting rights, but the state appealed.

Sweden has in the past been quiet about the persecution of the Sami people and their territories, but Sami stories are being told more openly now.

Last year a campaign was started by SVT's Sami language broadcaster SVT Sápmi against 'everyday racism' targeting Sami people. The story of the Sami people's fight for recognition in Sweden was also depicted in the award-winning Swedish Film 'Sami Blood'.

READ ALSO: Why is what happened to the Sami in Sweden not common knowledge?

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