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OHCHR: Call for Sweden to respect indigenous rights and withdraw from the Gállok mining project

The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) has called upon Sweden to follow through with its obligations set out in the new national law on consultation of January 2022 due to plans to construct an iron-ore mine against the will of the indigenous Sámi people. Although the law is not yet in force, the new national law requires the Sámi people to be included in the decision-making process alongside the Swedish Government on matters that are important to them. The OHCHR has expressed their views due to the proposal of the British company Beowulf Mining and their Swedish subsidiary Jokkmokk Iron Mines AB to build an iron-ore mine in the Gállok region, which is home to the Sámi people. The presence of an open-pit mine would cause devastating effects on the surrounding land and would jeopardise the migration routes of the reindeer in communities that rely on reindeer herding as a primary source of livelihood.

The construction of the mine would breach both the international standards and national standards set forth in the Swedish Minerals Act and the Environmental code.

Despite the recently enacted legislation in Sweden, mining concessions have already been issued without prior consultation with the affected communities. This only further highlights the need of the Sweden Government to respect its commitment to its indigenous communities and stop favouring economic gain at the cost of its people’s livelihoods.