Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: Bilingualism should be encouraged for all.
-Language rights have become an issue of contention within several European countries. Their denial undermines human rights and causes inter-communal tensions, said Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, earlier today.
According to Hammarberg, spelling of personal names on passports, displaying of street names, the languages used in schools, required languages to communicate with authorities and the possibility to establish minority media are some of the main issues often raised by minority representatives in Europe.
Language is an essential tool for social organization, including the functioning of the state, but it also a central dimension of individual identity on a personal level, and is often especially important for language minorities. Regarding that, Hammarberg expressed major concerns about nationalistic extremists exploiting the confusion and insecurity about national identity to promote a xenophobic discourse against minorities. To deal with this he calls the political leaderships in Europe to take more active and preventive measures.
Education of language minorities: Hammarberg said that the minority language education is absolutely essential for protecting language rights and for maintaining languages and therefore the governments should seek to ensure that persons belonging to minorities have adequate opportunities to learn the minority language. According to Hammarberg, bilingualism should be encouraged not only for national minorities but for all. He further argued that the right to adequate opportunities for minority language education should be implemented without prejudice to the learning of the official language or to being taught in that language.
Minorities media: Hammarberg also stressed the need to strengthen existing minorities media and further develop minorities media in Europe. He meant that minorities media would reflect the plurality and diversity of the population. He expressed some concerns that the European states evaluation of minorities media should be based on objective and non-discriminatory criteria and should not be used to restrict enjoyment of minority rights.
1. Sign languages? Written on 26/01/10 at 17:59:41 GMT by Guest
This sounds very good - nice to have someone on the commission to be passionate about languages and the rights of ALL languages, be it one of EU official languages or not. Nothing has been stated about sign languages? There is a huge part of EU population that use sign languages. Time for EU to take active lead in this respect.
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