“Now it was finally time for our meeting with the Committee on Reindeer Lands (Renmarkskommittén). Our secretariats met, with some participants attending in person at Garnisonen in Stockholm and others attending via Skype. The aim was to get to know each other, share information about our mandates and explain how we work.
Although our inquiries have a great deal in common, there are also key differences between us. The biggest and most fundamental difference is that Committee on Reindeer Lands is an all-party committee of inquiry with a legal/political mandate. The committee includes nine members and a committee chair, and has a supporting secretariat consisting of four lawyers and an economist. In addition, no fewer than 26 experts and 10 advisers were appointed to assist the committee. The committee has elected work with full transparency, which means the secretariat regularly publishes texts on their website to gather views. They want to encourage everyone to share their views.
The other difference, as I see it, is the nature of the mandate. While we are a truth and reconciliation committee with everything that this entails, Committee on Reindeer Lands is a more traditional, all-party committee of inquiry whose mandate could be briefly summarised as clarifying the legal situation following the Girjas judgment (who holds which rights?). The Committee has divided the work into two stages: first, hunting and fishing rights are being examined, and then land use issues, including reindeer husbandry, will be analysed at a later stage.
There has been criticism from some quarters that the terms of reference are not sufficiently inclusive and that the reindeer-herding Sami have too much influence. Supplementary terms of reference are currently circulating for consultation. If they are adopted, my understanding is that they would mainly address this shortcoming, and that other groups, such as Tornedalians, Kvens and Lantalaiset would also have their say.
We concluded that we had both encountered challenges that we were unprepared for, and that we can benefit by exchanging experiences with each other. Our areas of work are related to each other, and we have every reason to continue the dialogue that was initiated to achieve the best possible final results, not least to prevent further escalation of tensions between various interest groups.
I can also report that the work on the interim report is drawing to a close. We are finalising the text and making sure that everything is ready when our report is due to be printed. We hope that the report presented to the ministers on 1 June will generate interest and engagement. Our interviews continue alongside this. More than 100 interviews have been conducted, with around 60 remaining. Transcription, interview summaries and any necessary translations also require qualified work that continues with unabated intensity. I would like to once again express my gratitude to everyone who has contributed by sharing their accounts. Without them, our work to fill in the gaps in Sweden’s history would be much more difficult, and the results much less substantial.”