Discrimination of the Sami in SwedenThe rights of the Sami from a discrimination perspective-DO report no. 2008:1 eng
The purpose of this report is to contribute knowledge of the Sami situation today by revealing the Sami discrimination experience and to propose measures to prevent and counteract discrimination of the Sami. The report is intended to serve as a basis for the continuing work of the DO, the new Ombudsman agency and other actors to prevent and counteract discrimination of the Sami.
Research shows that when problems have been formulated and solutions proposed, the Sami have been described on the basis of the majority society’s conceptions and its negative opinions of the Sami and the Sami culture. Examples include the race biology research carried out on the Sami, the State’s Sami policy, the reindeer husbandry legislation, the nomad schools and the Lapp sheriff system. These are expressions of structural discrimination and show how such structures can contribute to stigmatise and subordinate the Sami in relation to the majority society.
It is quite clear from the DO’s dialogue with the Sami that the State’s policy and the structures that have been created over the years continue to affect the Sami conditions today. The Sami have only limited possibilities for influencing their own life conditions and the discrimination means that the Sami are not treated as individuals, but are categorised on the basis of negative conceptions of the Sami as a group. The Sami have experienced discrimination in all areas of society.
The Government, county councils and municipalities, who are tasked with promoting the Sami rights, are responsible for counteracting these conceptions. In order to address this, it is necessary for state and municipal authorities to facilitate Sami influence and participation in matters that concern Sami using the Sami rights as an indigenous people and a national minority as the starting point. This is necessary not only to ensure that Sweden adheres to a greater extent to its undertakings regarding Sami participation according to international human rights law, but also in that way to reduce the foundations of the discriminating structures in the long term.
All in all, both long-term and short-term action is required on the part of the Government, other key actors, and authorities such as the National Agency for Education and the National Board of Health and Welfare, but also on the part of the Sami themselves. This presupposes a keen awareness and determination on the part of public institutions, including the DO, to continue to deepen co-operation with the Sami in these matters. Knowledge of the Sami life conditions must be deepened and made visible in society, at the same time as the Sami increase their knowledge of their rights and their own work against discrimination.
Source: The Equality Ombudsman, http://www.do.se/Documents/Material/Gamla%20ombudsm%C3%A4nnens%20material/discrimination-of-the-Sami.pdf