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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Sami activists await court verdict

Fines have been revoked against some Sami activists who occupied state government ministries last year, but state prosectors are still demanding payment of fines or six-day jail terms of others. A court decision is due in mid-April.

The activists were protesting wind turbines at Fosen, the licenses for which Norway’s own Supreme Court had ruled were invalid because they disturbed reindeer and thus damaged the human rights of Sami reindeer herders. Many of those demonstrating were physically removed from, for example, the lobby of the Oil & Energy Ministry, and fined for failing to obey police orders.

Prosecutors are now asking the Oslo County Court to punish the demonstrators with fines of NOK 6,000 (nearly USD 600) or six days in jail. They insist they’re only reacting to the demonstrators’ refusal to follow police orders, not their right to demonstrate. “Shall indigenous people, purely because of their indigenous status, enjoy greater protection than other demonstrators?” asked prosecutor Håkon Sjøvold, noting how anyone failing to follow police orders is subject to prosecution.

Fines were revoked, meanwhile, against five of the 18 charged with disobeying police orders, following disagreement among police and prosecutors over who ordered the initial orders and removals of activists. The remaining 13 defendants still face fines or jail, despite support from many including the former leader of the Sami Parliament, who claims all charges against the demonstrators should be dropped.

NewsinEnglish.no staff

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