Children’s Commissioner: Unacceptable for Sami children

The current Ombudsman for Children, Reidar Hjermann. Photo: www.barneombudet.no.

The current Ombudsman for Children, Reidar Hjermann. Photo: www.barneombudet.no.

The Norwegian ombudsman for children’s rights has reported to the UN Human Rights Council about what he sees as an unacceptable situation for Sami children, reports The Barents Observer.

In his report to the UN council, Ombudsman Reidar Hjermann writes that Norwegian authorities together with the Sami Parliament should take measures to improve school teaching and medical services for Sami children.

“I am very concerned about the situation among Sami children and youth,” Hjermann says to newspaper Aftenposten. “There is insufficient training in Sami language, insufficient access to textbooks and too few qualified Sami language teachers,” he adds.

According to Norwegian legislation, the Sami language has equal status as Norwegian as national language. That means that all public offices should offer services also in the Sami language.

Norway was the first country to establish a commissioner, or ombud, with statutory rights to protect children and their rights. Since 1981, the Ombudsman for Children in Norway has worked continuously to improve national and international legislation affecting children’s welfare.

The Sami people have lived in Norway much longer than the Norwegians. They are recognised as Norway’s original population. Around 40,000 Samis live in Norway today.

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