Sami Parliament President: Tysfjord cases are a national tragedy
The police have previously stated that it is too early to say whether the cases relate to a particular environment. The many sexual assault cases in Tysfjord Municipality are a national tragedy and so extensive that the government must get involved, says Vibeke Larsen, President of the Sami Parliament.
– It is time that responsible national authorities engage in this matter. The situation in Tysfjord is so serious that there is a need for extraordinary focus and action. We can not be satisfed that so many victims are not getting the help they need and require, writes the Sami Parliament President in an open letter.
The letter is addressed to the Minister of Justice, Per-Willy Amundsen, and Minister for Children, Solveig Horne, Both represent the Progress Party (FrP) in the Norwegian Parliament.
-I have been contacted by victims of abuse, saying that the municipality does not provide the help they need. The scale of the tragedy has been so huge that it is not realistic to think that a small municipality will be able to handle this alone, writes Larsen.
The police in Nordland investigating over 120 cases involving sexual crimes in Tysfjord. In total, more than 80 people are suspected, among them one person charged with eleven cases. All the suspects live in Tysfjord.
Suffering and pain
In total there are registered more than 70 aggrieved, mainly girls who were aged 7-16 years old when the sexual abuse allegedly committed. Most of the abuses occurred in the municipality, according to the police. Some cases are up to 40 years old.
– The assault cases in Tysfjord Municipality have now reached an extent that can be called a national tragedy. The sufferings and the pain this has caused victims and the local community is hard to fathom, says Vibeke Larsen.
Police started an investigation in June 2016 after eleven women and men from Tysfjord came forward with their abuse stories in VG. Even within the police one is surprised by the enormous scope.
– It’s all about the surprising number of cases. I do not know any other complex that has had the same scope. The cases deal with very serious criminal cases. These include rape and other forms of sexual intercourse and other sexual offenses, said police adviser Øyvind Rengård in Nordland police district to NTB one and a half weeks ago.
The President of the Sami says she has been concerned about the situation for a long time, and also shows research that says that the Sami communities are characterized by lack of confidence in police and aid in abuse cases. She praises the people in Tysfjord who have come forward with their stories broken taboos about sexual abuse.
– Silence and taboos prevent such pests from being stopped and responsibility from being placed on the perpetrator. The Sami Parliament has on several occasions pointed to the high proportion of Sami women who have experienced violence of either physical, psychological or sexual nature, says Larsen.
She points out that they have repeatedly addressed the need for a treatment apparatus with Sámi language and cultural competence, as well as further research on this topic in the Sami communities.
– For now, we have not received clear answers from responsible authorities,” says Larsen, who asks Amundsen and Horne to take action to contribute to greater trust between the Lule Sami minority and the Norwegian big community.
Sanner invites the municipality of Tysfjord to meeting
Minister for Municipial Affairs, Jan Tore Sanner, (Conservatives) will invite Tysfjord municipality and other stakeholders to a meeting to discuss how the assault cases will be followed up.
– The descriptions of Tysfjord evokes both dismay and deep concern. The situation in Tysfjord municipality is very serious, and it is important that victims and their families are well catered for by the public, says the Minister.
He agrees that the community has a responsibility to contribute when a local community experiences such a serious situation as this. Tysfjord is a community that is affected by a crisis, and both people and the municipality need assistance, he notes.
– We will shortly invite Tysfjord municipality, county, neighboring municipalities and other key players in the follow-up to a meeting to discuss how together we can secure a better deal for victims and others who need help and follow-up in the municipality, both for the short- and long term, says Sanner.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today