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Agreement on the Nordic Saami Convention reached

Ministry of Justice 21.12.2016 14.04
Press release

A Nordic Saami Convention has been prepared already for over a decade. The Convention will be completed before the centenary celebrations of the Saami people. Agreement on the Nordic Saami Convention has now been reached in the negotiations, and the Finnish Government will start preparing the ratification of the Convention based on this agreement.

The Convention contains a co-Nordic provision on the persons entitled to vote in the elections to the Saami Parliament. The common provision on the right to vote corresponds to the legislation in force in Norway. In Finland, the required amendments to the national legislation on the right to vote will be made before the next elections, which will be held in the autumn 2019.

The Convention safeguards the Saami people’s constitutional right to maintain and develop their own language and culture.

The Convention does not bring any changes to the Saami rights to land and water in the Saami homeland. The purpose of the Convention is to assert the Saami people’s existing rights and freedoms in the Saami region, not to change them. The Act bringing into force the Convention will contain more detailed provisions on the rights to land and water. The Saami’s opportunities to participate in the planning of the management and use of the state’s land and water areas will be developed by the municipality-specific advisory councils established under Metsähallitus in Enontekiö, Inari and Utsjoki.

The Convention emphasises the significance of the traditional Saami livelihoods to the Saami language, culture and social life. In addition to reindeer husbandry, fishing, hunting and Saami handicraft (Duodji), the Convention also mentions cultural and creative livelihoods, tourism and modern ways of engaging in trades. The provisions concerning the livelihoods will be elaborated in the national legislation in connection with the bringing into force of the Convention.

Inquiries:
Leena Riekkola, Special Adviser to the Minister, tel. +358 2951 60375
Johanna Suurpää, Director, Ministry of Justice, tel. +358 2951 50534
Pentti Lähteenoja, Director-General, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 2951 62485

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Jari Lindström