Press releases

The Population Register Centre neglected the rights of the Sami

Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin has issued a reprimand to the Population Register Centre for conduct which prevented the entry of all of the diacritic marks of the Sami language in the Population Information System. 

The Deputy-Ombudsman investigated the matter on the basis of a complaint, according to which it was not possible to enter the name of the complainant’s daughter with its correct spelling in the Population Information System. For this reason, it was also impossible to correctly print out the name in official documents, such as a passport or the Kela card. 

By virtue of the Finnish Constitution and international conventions that are binding on Finland, the government should have ensured, without undue delay, that the names of the Sami people can be entered in the Population Information System with their correct Sami spelling.
 According to Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin, this is essential to realising the rights of the Sami people in order to maintain and develop their culture and preserve their identity.

A technical solution that would enable the entry of the full Sami alphabet in the Population Information Register has been possible for several years, but the Population Register Centre has not found it necessary to implement it due to the changes in the information systems this would have required.

According to the information obtained by Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin, the Population Register Centre has, after the abovementioned complaint, taken measures to implement the appropriate set of characters as specifically required by the Council of Europe. 

Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin will monitor that the Population Information System implements the new set of characters without undue delay, as it has undertaken to do.

Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin’s decision 3592/2017 is available in full in Finnish on the Ombudsman’s website

For more information, please contact Principal Legal Adviser Riitta Länsisyrjä, tel +358 9 432 3363.