ICCPR Case Digest




Submission: 2015.10.02

View Adopted: 2018.11.01

Tiina Sanila-Aikio v. Finland

Finland gives right to vote in Sami elections to non-Sami

Substantive Issues
  • Non-discrimination
  • Protection of minorities
  • Self-determination
Relevant Articles
  • Article 1
  • Article 25
  • Article 26
  • Article 27
Full Text


Tiina Sanila-Aikio is a Finnish national and President of the Sami Parliament of Finland. In 2011, Finland's Supreme Administrative Court gave the right to vote to 93 persons who had been found ineligible to vote by the Sami Parliament. This violated the Sami people's rights to political participation. As protectors of the Sami language and culture, diluting their vote in parliamentary elections also dilutes their right to enjoy their own culture and language. Finally, the author contended that the decisions regarding what persons were admitted and not admitted to the electoral roll were arbitrary and that the Court's decision violates the Sami people's right to self-determination (the Committee did not examine the former and determined the latter to be inadmissible).


The Committee considers that the author’s claims under articles 25, 26 and 27 of the Covenant have been sufficiently substantiated for the purposes of admissibility.

The Committee therefore decides:
(a) To split consideration of admissibility from the merits of the communication;

(b) That the communication is admissible insofar as it raises issues with respect to articles 25, 26 and 27 of the Covenant;

(c) That the State party and the author are requested to submit to the Committee further explanations related to the merits of the author’s claims and the remedies sought, including information regarding the assessment of the Supreme Administrative Court contained in the 93 rulings; the interpretation by the Finnish courts of the definition of a Sami contained in the Act on the Sami Parliament; and the impact of such an interpretation on the composition of the Parliament and its functioning as an institution of Sami self- government, resulting from the 2015 and previous elections. The Committee would also appreciate receiving information about the Sami Parliament’s position related to forestry and other commercial activity in, and privatization, of public lands and waters within the Sami Homeland; and whether the Sami were excluded from effective participation in the negotiations with Norway concerning salmon fishing on the River Teno as a result of the rulings. Finally, the Committee would welcome observations from the parties on the impact of the Court rulings on the author’s rights to enjoy her culture and to use her language in community with other members of the Sami indigenous people.

(d) That this decision shall be communicated to the State party and to the author.



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