A cull order was not a violation of a Sami reindeer herder's rights under ICCPR article 27 or ECHR-P1-1

Supreme Court judgment of 21 December 2017, HR-2017-2428-A (case no. 2017-981), civil case, appeal against judgment

The state represented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food (The Attorney General represented by counsel Stein-Erik Jahr Dahl) Assisting counsel: Marius Emberland)


Jovsset Ante Iversen Sara (Counsel Trond Pedersen Biti)

Justices: Bergsjø, Falch, Bergh, Webster, Indreberg

A young reindeer herder and leader of a siida unit, had received a government order to reduce his herd from 116 to 75 animals pursuant to the Reindeer Husbandry Act section 60 subsection 3. As opposed to the lower instances, the Supreme Court concluded that the cull order was valid. A majority of four justices found that the cull order did not violate the herder's rights under the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (SP) Article 27. Although it was not possible to earn a profit with such a low number of reindeer, the herder was not entitled under SP Article 27 to any proceeds or profit in this case. Nor did he have any legitimate expectation of increasing his herd considerably, as there were already too many reindeer in the district when he became leader of the siida unit. The rules governing reduction were implemented in the interest of the reindeer herders as a group, and the cull was ordered on reasonable and objective grounds. It was also mentioned that the primary solution under the Reindeer Husbandry Act is that the siida itself may decide how to carry out the cull, while the smallest units may be spared by fixing a maximum number of reindeer per siida unit. The Supreme Court also unanimously concluded that the siida unit's rights under the ECHR P1-1 have not been not violated.

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