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UN Committee slams Finland over Sami electorate ruling

Representatives of the minority won support from the UN Human Rights Committee, which said that Finland’s courts should not have ruled on who can vote in Sami elections.

Saamelaiskäräjät, saamelaiset, sámediggi, sápmelaš
Image: Vesa Toppari / Yle

The UN has criticised Finland’s administrative courts for adding 93 people to the electoral register for the Sami parliament against the wishes of the Sami members of that parliament, who did not regard those 93 people as Sami.

A complaint was lodged with the committee by Tiina Sanila-Aikio, President of the Sami Parliament. She argued that the addition of 93 people to the register in 2015 violated the rights of the Sami as an indigenous people to decide who is a member of their community.

The committee agreed, stating in its ruling that the Supreme Administrative Court “infringed on the capacity of the Sami people, through its Parliament, to exercise a key dimension of Sami self-determination in determining who is a Sami”.

The committee recommended that Finland changes the Sami Parliament law to ensure Sami self-determination is fully respected, and that Finland take action to ensure that similar violations don’t occur in future.

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