Sámi Parliament board sign UN complaint over election re-run

The Sámi Parliament elections will be re-run in June 2024. (Hilppa Hyrkäs/Yle)

The Executive Council of the Sámi Parliament has written to the UN’s Human Rights Committee to protest an order to re-run last year’s elections to the parliament.

Last year’s elections to the parliament are to be held again this June, with 65 struck-off voters reinstated to the register, after a ruling from the Supreme Administrative Court.

The Sámi Parliament considers the ruling to be a breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“The Executive Board of the Sámi Parliament gives its support to the human rights complaint,” said the Executive Board’s President, Pirita Näkkäläjärvi. “It is part of Finland’s continual breaches of international human rights agreements in relation to the Sámi Parliament’s electoral roll.”

The UN Human Rights Committee condemned the Finnish court rulings in 2019, while in 2022 the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination (CERD) adopted an opinion in 2022 that Finland had violated the rights of Sámi people in adding people to the electoral roll against the wishes of the Sámi Parliament.

The committees are so-called ‘treaty bodies’, set up to monitor compliance with the treaty, and as such does not accept complaints from official bodies like the Sámi Parliament.

Instead, the senior officers of the parliament are signing Näkkäläjärvi’s complaint to show their support instead.

The complaint concerns a ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court from 27 March that ordered 65 voters be reinstated to the Sámi Parliament’s electoral roll.

The parliament regards the individuals as ineligible to vote in Sámi elections, while the Finnish courts have ruled that they must be allowed to vote.

Sámi have argued that such rulings breach their right to self-determination as laid down in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Former candidates call to improve elections for Indigenous voters in Quebec, CBC News

Finland: Sami leader says recent Finnish court ruling was ‘devastating’ & violation of autonomy, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Finnish Court annuls 2023 Sámi elections, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Land use rights a key issue in this year’s Sami parliamentary elections in Sweden, Radio Sweden

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