My respect for Justice Minister Tuija Brax (green) grows almost every time I read or hear about her. As reported earlier, she has previously demonstrated her understanding of the needs of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland.
Now Brax has addressed the matter of the Sami people in Finland. She was speaking at the Forum for Human Rights at the parliament yesterday where she said that she considered that the rights of the Sami have been handled poorly in Finland. The chairman of the Sami Assembly Pauliina Feodoroff thanked Brax for finally admitting, as a person in a high position, that the state had dealt with Sami questions inadequately.
Finland has been criticised for not signing up to a convention that recognises the Sami as indigenous people. Brax stated that this matter will be taken up during the present government period. She also stated the government will approve the Nordic Sami Agreement this year. The agreement would pave the way for annual joint meetings of the Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian ministers responsible for Sami matters together with the chairmen of all 3 countries’ Sami assemblies. The agreement also make a proposal for minimum standards of rights in connection to the Sami language, culture and society.
According to the Central Statistics Office, 1 777 persons have declared Sami as their mother tongue in the population registry (as of 31.12.2007). The number of Sami is likely to be higher than this however as you can freely choose which language (Finnish/Swedish/Sami) you register as your contact language with the authorities. Wikipedia states that there are around 6 000 Sami in Finland.
The image is the Sami flag, adopted in 1986.