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Greenland takes over courts, police under new self-rule deal with Denmark

[JURIST] Greenlanders Sunday celebrated [press release] their national day with the establishment of a self-rule arrangement that increases the island's autonomy from Denmark. Under the Greenland Self Government Act [draft text, PDF] presented by Denmark's Queen Margrethe [official website] to Greenland's new socialist Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist [official profile], Greenland [government website] now controls its own law enforcement and domestic courts and will receive a higher percentage of its mineral resource revenue. The new official language is Kalaallisut or Greenlandic. The territory is still part of the Danish kingdom, and remains subject to the Danish constitution [text]. The Danish Supreme Court [official website] is still the highest court for Greenland, and Denmark will also continue to have final say over Greenland security and foreign policy.

In November 2008, 72 percent of the Greenland electorate voted for increased autonomy [JURIST report] from Denmark in a national referendum. The Arctic island gained basic home-rule in 1979 under the Greenland Home Rule Act [text]. Greenland has been a Danish colony for 300 years, since its recolonization in the 1700s. Approximately 88 percent of Greenlanders are Inuit or of mixed Danish-Inuit descent. Earlier Norse settlements established on the island from the 9th century failed in the 14th and 15th centuries due to harsh climatic conditions.

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