Discrimination of national minorities in the education system-DO:s rapportserie 2008:2 eng

National minorities and their languages have existed in Sweden for centuries. However, these minorities have in many ways had a subordinate role and periodically been openly opposed by the majority society. The policy of assimilation and education that was pursued in Sweden over an extended period has affected the living conditions of the national minorities and their possibility to acquire their own language.

In contacts with the Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination (DO), national minorities express that discrimination and degradation associated with their ethnic identity are a part of everyday life. This has also been brought up by the Council of Europe, which has criticized how Sweden implemented the Council’s minority conventions. One of the Council of Europe’s most sharply formulated remarks concerns how Sweden has handled the possibilities of national minorities to acquire access to native language education and how regulations within the education system have been formulated.

The DO also believes that Sweden should have a higher level of ambition in these matters. The Council of Europe has particularly noted that the administrative districts should be expanded and that laws are lacking outside the administrative districts that regulate national minorities’ linguistic rights. Furthermore, the Council of Europe is of the opinion that a body should be established that monitors and follows up on how Sweden lives up to the minority conventions. Therefore, the DO proposes:

• that the Government take the initiative to measures that mean that the level of ambition for minority policy is significantly raised and that Sweden ensure the rights and freedoms of persons belonging to national minorites.

• that the Government give the Working Committee on Constitutional Reform a supplemental directive with the aim of investigating how the national minorities and the special rights can be given stronger constitutional protection.

• that the Government take the initiative to an act on national minorities and minority languages with the aim of ensuring human rights of persons belonging to national minorities in accordance with the minority conventions.

• that the Government take the initiative to a supervisory authority charged with monitoring Sweden’s compliance with the minorityconventions and other international documents concerning national minorities. This charge should also include working for greater knowledge about the rights of national minorities. This is because more knowledge is needed about the situation and rights of national minorities, as are clearer governance and monitoring of the implementation of national minority rights.