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Complex Politics Over Reindeer Herders’ Rights in Sweden

The Standstill Over Reindeer Herders’ Rights in Sweden

Picture this: dividings within teams, halted investigations, and mounting frustrations within the Swedish political landscape, as the question of reindeer herders’ rights further splits opposing camps.

Delving into the Details

Under the spotlight are the rights of the Sami people, the indigenous people in Sweden, specifically concerning hunting, fishing, and herding. The fuse was lit with the famous Girjas ruling by the Supreme Court in 2020, granting the Sami village Girjas sole right to determine small game hunting and fishing within their domain.

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Since then, multiple Sami villages have drafted plans to sue the state. With increasing pressure, the Renmark Committee was appointed in 2021 by the previous S-MP government to propose a new reindeer husbandry law. There’s been no activity since, causing increasing frustration and concerns among members like Jakob Olofsgård (L), as he worries about the escalating conflicts reaching dangerous levels.

Girjas ruling and Renmark Committee, in a nutshell:
In January 2020, the Girjas Sami village won against the state in the Supreme Court, yielding the right to regulate small game hunting and fishing on state land above the cultivation limit. This limit is an eighteenth-century boundary drawn through Lapland to protect the reindeer industry from agriculture and settlers encroaching on Sami territories.

Added Twists and Turns

The debate took a dramatic turn this summer when an initial report of 730 pages and a draft of a final report proposed that Sami villages should have the rights to hunting and fishing on state territories. The opposers, M, KD, and SD parties, protested, but a majority led by S, MP, V, C, and L parties voted to send the draft out for referral.

The continuous inaction leaves Jakob Olofsgård and the investigation in limbo, as M, KD, and SD parties seem intent on stalling the investigation without providing alternatives.

The Scene As It Stands Today

Currently, the ball is in rural minister Peter Kullgren’s (KD) court, and although the case has reportedly been prepared, the referral has not yet been sent out.

Among those against the draft, John Widegren (M) stated that he’d prefer the pre-Girjas ruling state rights where everyone had the right to hunt and fish.

Committee members like Michael Rubbestad (SD) oppose the draft too. Yet he still expects a referral to be sent out, as the decision to do so was made democratically.

The Human Factor

In these bumpy tides, let’s not forget about those directly experiencing this debacle. Jenny Wik Karlsson, Chief Legal Officer of the Swedish Sami National Association, shares the collective worry about the repercussions of political inactivity.

Adding to that, there’s a visible “us and them” sentiment increasing hate and threats on social media towards reindeer and other properties. If this escalates, when will individuals be the next target?

In conclusion, one thing is clear: the domains of politics and people’s rights are intertwined more than ever. As we watch this saga unfold bit by bit, let’s hope for some resolutions soon in the Land of Vikings.

Expat community, we’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Let’s get a conversation going!

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