Appeal court: Samis have ‘better right’ than Swedish state to control hunting and fishing on its land

The Samis want the right to control the fishing and small game hunting in areas where their reindeer graze. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)
The appeals court has given the Girjas Sami village the right to control hunting and fishing permits on its reindeer herding land, but the not exclusive right, in a decision that partly rolls back the district court’s verdict.

The wording used by the court is that the Sami village has “better right” than the state to control the small game hunting and fishing on reindeer herding land.

The case stems back to 2009, when Girjas Sami village sued the Swedish state for its decision in 1993 to take over the granting of hunting and fishing permits also in reindeer herding land, which is owned by the state.

The village – which is an administrative entity in the Sami community – referred to their over 1,000 years presence and use of the land, long before the Swedish state formally became owners of the land in the end of the 19th century.

A year ago, a district court granted Girjas exclusive rights to control the hunting and fishing permits in the area, which the state then appealed.

Jenny Wik Karlsson, legal counsellor with SSR, the national organisation for the Sami indigenous people in Sweden, told Radio Sweden that they are pleased about winning the principle right to the land, but that they need to analyse the decision a bit more before they know what this means exactly.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuit in Canada and Greenland seek co-management of crucial Arctic habitat, Radio Canada International

Finland:  Sami group occupies island in northern Finland to protest fishing rules, Yle News

Iceland: Can environmental diplomacy save Arctic languages?, Blog by Takeshi Kaji

Norway: Arctic Frontiers kicks off with majority of speakers from south of the Arctic Circle, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Treatment of Sami people among Swedish shortcomings : Amnesty International report, Radio Sweden

Russia: More protected lands on Nenets tundra in Arctic Russia, The Independent Barents Observe

United States: Preserving Indigenous languages in Alaska, one grocery store at a time, Alaska Dispatch News

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