BACKGROUND LEAFLET. SAMI The people, the culture and the languages and the Council of Europe NOVEMBER 2014 INARI, FINLAND

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1 BACKGROUND LEAFLET SAMI The people, the culture and the languages and the Council of Europe NOVEMBER 2014 INARI, FINLAND 1

2 Aims and expected outcomes of the event - Provide insight into the specific identities, traditions, cultures and languages of the Sami. - Increase understanding of the common challenges faced by Sami in Finland, Norway and Sweden in the fields of equality, effective participation in public life, and preservation of languages and cultures, reflecting also the perspective of youth, women and diverse groups within the minority. - Enable the sharing of experience, creative solutions and good practices. - Serve as a pilot exercise for the relevant Council of Europe kin-monitoring mechanisms to enhance synergies. - Serve as the first thematic event to implement the terms of reference of the European Committee for Social Cohesion, Human Dignity and Equality (CDDECS) ( contribute, promote and support in its field of competence the implementation of standards, in particular through the promotion of the relevant Council of Europe Conventions and the work carried out by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), supporting States in the exchange of good practice. - Further increase the importance of the CoE as a pan-european actor in the fields of human rights, democracy and rule of law. Sami and Sami languages in Finland, Norway, Russian Federation and Sweden Sami as indigenous people Constitutions of Norway and Finland have recognized Sami as indigenous people. The Constitution of Sweden recognizes Sami people as people. The Sami are the only indigenous people in the European Union. Sami homeland Traditional Sami areas (Sami homeland) are in Northern part of Finland, Kola Peninsula in Russia and the Northern and Middle parts of Sweden and Norway. Currently an increasing number of the Sami live outside the Sami homeland. This brings challenges to services and to the future of Sami Culture. Sami parliaments Sami people have their own representative organisations, Sami Parliaments, established by law. Their legislation, funding and tasks differ from country to country. 2

3 Sami Parliament in Finland was established in The Sami Delegation (Sámi Parlamenta), was a predecessor to the Sami Parliament, and operated from The Act on Sami parliament is currently being renewed. Sami parliament of Norway was established in Norway has ratified ILO Convention 169 on the rights of indigenous and tribal people. Sami parliament of Sweden was established in Skolt Sami have their own representative organization, Skolt Assembly, in Skolt area, in the eastern part of Inari municipality. Russian Sami have established their own Sami parliament, but the parliament is not recognized by Russian Federation. Sami Parliamentary Council is the cooperative organ between the Sami Parliaments and the Sami in Russian Federation. Sami languages There are nine different Sami languages alive. All the Sami languages are highly endangered. Sami languages can be divided into Eastern and Western language groups. Western languages are North, South, Piteå, Umeå and Luleå Sami. Eastern language group consists of Skolt, Inari, Kildin and Ter Sami. Akkala Sami in Russia died in the 90 s. North Sami is spoken in all the four countries and is the biggest language. Inari and Skolt Sami are spoken only in Finland, with the exception of a few Skolt Sami speakers in Russian Federation. In Finland three Sami languages are spoken: Inari, North and Skolt Saami. The rest is used in Sweden and Norway only. Some of the Sami languages are further divided into various dialects. Sami language is protected by legislation in Finland, Sweden and Norway. Sami people have right to education in their own language. About half of the Sami speak Sami as mother tongue. Traditional way of life Traditional Sami livelihoods are reindeer herding, hunting, fishing, gathering and Sami handicrafts. Nowadays also small scale agriculture and tourism form part of traditional Sami livelihoods. Many Sami are also employed in public and private sector. Inari Inari is the center of Sami culture in Finland. All the three Sami languages of Finland are spoken in here. Sami Cultural Centre Sajos, location of the seminar, is a state-owned Cultural Centre and the home of the Finnish Sami Parliament. 3

4 Council of Europe (CoE) Protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The Council of Europe is the leading European human rights organization, founded in It has 47 member states, ranging from Greenland to Caspian See. From the 47 member states 28 are also members of the European Union. All Council of Europe member states have signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty designed to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In addition, the Council of Europe promotes human rights through other international conventions. The national implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights is monitored by the European Court of Human Rights, the implementation of other conventions by independent expert monitoring bodies, three of which are represented in this event. In addition to the member states and the monitoring bodies, the Council of Europe consists of intergovernmental working groups and expert groups and the secretariat. One of these intergovernmental working groups is the CDDECS, organising this event. Other actors within the framework of the Council of Europe are the Secretary General (SG), the Committee of Ministers (CM), the Parliamentary assembly (PACE), Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Commissioner for Human Rights and the Conference of the international nongovernmental organisations. European Committee for Social Cohesion, Human Dignity and Equality (CDDECS) Promoting solidarity and protection of human dignity, equality and equal opportunities for all, and preventing and combatting of violence and discrimination on any ground. The CDDECS is an intergovernmental committee created in 2014 to oversee and coordinate the inter-governmental work of the Council of Europe (CoE) in the fields of social cohesion, human dignity, equality and anti-discrimination, and to advice the Committee of Ministers (CM) on these areas. It is composed of one expert member from each member State s government. The CDDECS works towards securing full enjoyment of and access to all human rights, including social and economic rights, by all members of society. It also aims to reduce the vulnerability of people; and to strengthen the fabric of sustainable democratic societies. The CDDECS strives to enhance the implementation of the related standards and policies in the member states, and to co-operate with other structures and bodies. It also explores good practices and effective ways of implementing recommendations and general comments made by the independent monitoring mechanisms and the CM. 4

5 Council of Europe and follow up to the Report by the Secretary General on the State of Democracy, Human Rights and Rule of Law in Europe In May 2014 the Secretary General (SG) of the Council of Europe published his first annual report on the state of democracy, human rights and rule of law in Europe. The report provided analysis of the current situation in Europe but it also examined the Council of Europe s capacity to assist member States in complying with the standards deriving from the European Convention on Human Rights. In order to better ensure access to all human rights by all persons living in the member States, and especially in the times of economic difficulties, the States must fully re-commit themselves to the CoE human rights standards, including the recommendations made by its various monitoring mechanisms. In July 2014 the SG presented a follow-up document to the report with a list of challenges, recommendations and proposed actions for all organs of the CoE to work on. One of the key items of the follow-up document is the increased synergies between the CoE s monitoring mechanisms. This is especially mentioned with regard to the three monitoring mechanisms participating in this event. The monitoring mechanisms are encouraged to closely coordinate their operations, hold joint visits when possible and respond faster to emergency situations or unresolved conflict zones. All activities of other CoE bodies, such as CDDECS, as well as member States should respond to the shortcomings identified by the monitoring mechanisms. The CDDECS is organizing this event as a pilot project for increased synergies between the monitoring bodies on a single theme, this time the Sami, and not just in one country, but three neighbouring countries that all face similar challenges with regard the indigenous population present within their territories. This event is not part of the monitoring process; it is a unique opportunity for government actors, minorities/indigenous people concerned, as well as members of the relevant monitoring mechanisms to exchange experience and to share good practices and innovative projects to improve the implementation of human rights. European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) Combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance in Europe from the perspective of the protection of human rights. ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe with the task of combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination on grounds such as race, national/ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language (racial discrimination) from the perspective of the protection of human rights, in the light of the European Convention on Human Rights, its additional protocols and related case-law. It s composed of one independent expert from each member State. 5

6 ECRI s main activities are country monitoring, work on general themes (publishing General Policy Recommendations, GPR) and relations with civil society and specialized bodies (awareness-raising among the general public and communication strategy). In each country it examines the legal framework for combating racism and racial discrimination, its application, the existence of independent bodies to assist victims of racism and intolerance, the situation of "vulnerable groups" in specific areas (education, employment, housing, health, access to goods and services) and the tone of political and public debate around issues relevant for these groups. Country monitoring takes place in 5-year cycles, covering nine/ten countries per year. ECRI provides states with concrete and practical advice on how to tackle problems of racism and intolerance in their country. It examines the legal framework for combating racism and racial discrimination, its application, the existence of independent bodies to assist victims of racism and intolerance, the situation of "vulnerable groups" in specific areas (education, employment, housing, health, access to goods and services) and the tone of political and public debate around issues relevant for these groups. As part of ECRI s objectives, ECRI has formulated a number of recommendations concerning the Sami. In Norway, ECRI recommends that the authorities monitor and address all manifestations of racism and discrimination against the Sami population. In Sweden problems relating to land rights and land use continue to have an adverse effect on the Sami, including with respect to mining and wind-power development projects that would threaten their traditional way of life. ECRI therefore emphasizes the importance of ensuring the Swedish Constitution s recognition of the Sami people in practice, including by promoting their effective participation in decisions affecting them. In Finland ECRI encourages the authorities to continue measures taken to revive Sami languages and recommends that they train a sufficient number of teachers for this purpose. Awareness of the Sami people among the majority population should also be increased. Framework Convention on National Minorities (FCNM) Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities Protecting the rights and freedoms of persons belonging to national minorities as integral part of international human rights protection. The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities is the only legally binding instrument protecting the rights of persons belonging to national minorities world-wide. It was adopted in 1994 and entered into force on 1 February To date 39 member States have ratified the Convention. Parties to the Framework Convention undertake to promote the full and effective equality of persons belonging to minorities in all areas of economic, social, political, public and cultural life, and 6

7 to provide conditions that will allow them to express, preserve and develop their specific cultures, religions, languages and traditions. Furthermore, the Convention contains guarantees regarding their access to and use of media, minority language and education rights, as well as the right to effectively participate in all aspects of public life. The Framework Convention provides for a monitoring system to evaluate how the treaty is implemented in State Parties. It results in recommendations to improve minority protection in the States under review. There is an Advisory Committee, consisting of 18 independent experts, who is responsible for providing a detailed analysis on the situation of national minorities and their access to human rights in legislation and practice. The Advisory Committee s country-specific opinions advise the Committee of Ministers in the preparation of its Resolutions. Monitoring cycles take place every 5 years. Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Russian Federation are all member states of the FCNM and the Advisory Committee has repeatedly assessed the level of implementation with regard to the Sami. It has in particular called on the authorities to ensure that the Sami are effectively enabled to participate in all decision-making related to their concerns, including with regard to land rights and education and cultural matters. The Advisory Committee has further urged them to intensify their efforts to prevent the further disappearance of the Sami languages, including the smaller ones, from public life through targeted revitalization measures, the promotion of Sami language teaching at all levels, and the continued promotion of access to public services in the Sami languages. European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) The Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages Protecting and promoting the regional or minority languages as part of the wealth and diversity of Europe s cultural heritage. The European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages was adopted in The Charter is the European convention for the protection and promotion of traditional regional or national minority languages. It entered into force on 1 March To date 25 member States have ratified the Convention. When ratifying the Charter, States Parties can choose from a menu of various protection standards for languages, including promotional measures in addition to the individual rights of minority language speakers ensuing from national legislation. This supports the implementation of minority rights in daily practice. The Charter encourages States Parties to actively promote the use of regional or minority languages in virtually all domains of public life: education, courts, administration, media, culture, economic and social life, and transfrontier co-operation. The Charter provides for a monitoring mechanism to evaluate how the Charter is applied in a State Party with a view to, where necessary, making recommendations for improvements in its legislation, policy and practice. The central element of the monitoring mechanism is a Committee 7

8 of Independent Experts, composed of one member for each State Party. The Committee addresses its report to the Committee of Ministers, including proposals for recommendations to be made to States. Monitoring takes place in 3-year cycles. Several improvements in the situation of minority languages in Finland, Sweden and Norway can be attributed to the recommendations made during the monitoring procedure. For example, Finland introduced language proficiency testing allowing to test and develop proficiency in North Sami for the employment in the public sector; Norway presented an action plan to ensure the use of Sami in hospitals; Sweden benefits from the active involvement of the Sami Parliament with respect to the monitoring and implementation of the (National) Minority Act with regard to Sami. As a result of the success of the Sami Language Centers in Sweden in the revitalisation of weaker Sami languages, other minority representatives in Finland and in Sweden requested the set-up of equivalent institutions. *** 8

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