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2 Jul 2020

Christina Henriksen, President of the Saami Council

Finland violates the rights of the Sámi people by allowing mining companies in Sámi homeland

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The Saami Council echoes the concerns of the Ergon Sámi siida in the North Western Enontekiö area and other Sámi communities regarding the news of a Dutch-owned mineral exploration company Akkerman Finland Oy attempting to enter the Finnish side of Sápmi, without the indigenous Sámi rights holders, such as reindeer herding siidas, being officially separately informed about the reservation...The Sámi rights holders receiving information regarding the reservation decision on their pastures in practice only through a newspaper announcement is not acceptable, and this practice does not comply with international legal framework on the rights of indigenous peoples, says Christina Henriksen, the President of the Saami Council...It is unacceptable that, in the Sámi homeland in Finland, the process in the Mining Act of making a reservation for an area is a mere formality, and by doing so pose a threat to the Sámi languages, culture and livelihoods, and the existence of the indigenous Sámi people, says Henriksen...

The North Western Enontekiö area faces heavy pressure from various mining interests and other large-scale interventions and plans, such as tourism, infrastructure, wind power etc. This is one of the rare areas on the Finnish side of Sápmi, where the key elements of traditional Sámi reindeer-herding, for example the year-round traditional siida system, have been preserved and are still maintained...The Saami Council urges Finland to seize the opportunity to implement the UNDRIP, by ratifying the ILO Convention No 169 and making necessary amendments to the inadequate Mining Act, to make sure that the principle of free, prior of informed consent is included...