Sweden appeals Sami land use case

Sami protester, dressed in traditional clothes, walk through downtown Stockholm November 23, 2007. Bertil Ericson/REUTERS/Scanpix
Sami protesters, dressed in traditional clothes, walk through downtown Stockholm November 23, 2007. Bertil Ericson/REUTERS/Scanpix
The Swedish State has appealed the court decision in the landmark Girjas case, where the Sami population of the small village in Northern Sweden won a historic victory in a long-running battle over land rights.

The state’s lawyers have filed an appeal and requested to have time until the end of April to develop the case and provide more proof.

“This was expected, and according to our hopes,” Head of Girjas Sami village Matti Berg said to SVT. “We have been prepared for the case being appealed and going through the entire legal system.”

As the Independent Barents Observer reported, in the beginning of February a decision in Gällivare district court granted the Sami village of Girjas exclusive rights to control fishing and hunting in the area, restoring powers that were stripped from the Sami people by Sweden’s Parliament in 1993.

The court in its decision emphasized that the Sami population had used the land much longer than the Swedish state. Lawyers for the state claimed that the indigenous status of the Samis was irrelevant to the case.

“Sweden has in this matter no international obligations to recognize special rights of the Sami people, whether they are indigenous or not,” they said.

Some locals of the non-Sami population in the area were suspicious and feared that the court decision can lead to restrictions on snowmobiling and moose hunting. Four associations of hunters, fishers and snowmobilers in the area send a letter to the Swedish Attorney General requesting that the court decision should be appealed, SVT reports.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s Supreme Court agrees to hear Arctic seismic testing case opposed by Inuit, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Sámi politician calls Finland “racist country”, Yle News

Greenland: What the EU seal ban has meant for Inuit communities in the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Norway:  Stop romanticizing Arctic development say indigenous leaders, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden:  Sami demand rights as indigenous people, Radio Sweden

Russia:  Russia brands Arctic indigenous organization as “foreign agent,” Barents Observer

United States:  Arctic conference spotlights indigenous issues, Alaska Dispatch News

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