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19 d’abr. 2013

The Catalan language in US human rights reports

Extracts from the 


U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor's 

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices




The Law of the Catalan Language, approved by the Catalan regional legislature (Generalitat) in 1998, stipulates the use of Catalan as the official language in local government and administrative offices, regional courts, publicly owned corporations, and private companies subsidized by the Catalan regional government. Spanish-speaking citizens are provided with the right to be dealt with by public officials in Spanish. The legislation also establishes minimum quotas for Catalan-language radio and television programming. Many activists in Catalunya's Spanish-speaking community criticized the law for discriminating against Spanish-speaking citizens and imposing "linguistic hegemony" on a diverse population. Lawsuits regarding specific applications of this law are pending in various courts. Both Galicia and Valencia have laws stating the duty of the Government to "promote" their regional languages in schools and at official functions.

The Law of the Catalan Language, approved by the Catalan regional legislature (Generalitat) in 1998, stipulates the use of Catalan as the official language in local government and administrative offices, regional courts, publicly owned corporations, and private companies subsidized by the Catalan regional Government.  Spanish-speaking citizens have the right to be addressed in Spanish by public officials.  The legislation also establishes minimum quotas for Catalan-language radio and television programming.  Controversy continued over the language law implementing legislation and related regulatory measures.  Facing strong resistance from film distributors, the regional government in March annulled legislation that required foreign films distributed in sufficient quantities also to be dubbed and distributed in Catalan.
In June an administrative court in Tarragona considered a challenge to a local university regulation that imposed extensive use of Catalan in university affairs.  The court, although leaving some of the regulation intact and declaring itself not competent to rule on the constitutionality of the linguistic law, struck down several sections of the regulation.  For example, the court found that the regulation's treatment of certain administrative issues and a requirement that staff use Catalan at all public university functions exceeded university authority and autonomy and were not in conformance with other laws.  Another court challenge involved the propriety of the same university's discipline of a professor for supplying copies of the university entrance examination in Spanish, rather than Catalan, to two students requesting Spanish versions.  The court ruled in December that the professor was excluded wrongly from the administration of the examinations and praised her for defending the students' rights.  The court clearly implied that the university's regulation limiting access to the exmination in Spanish was discriminatory and said that it was permissible to foster the use of Catalan but not to do so in a manner that excludes or limits the use of Spanish.   The university administration responded that it had no intention of modifying its regulation and intended to appeal the continued suspension of certain aspects of the regulation.  Notwithstanding its response, in May it began supplying the entrance examination in Spanish to those who requested it. 

…The Law of the Catalan Language, approved by the Catalan regional legislature (Generalitat) in 1998, stipulates the use of Catalan as the official language in local government and administrative offices, regional courts, publicly owned corporations, and private companies subsidized by the Catalan regional Government.  Spanish-speaking citizens have the right to be addressed in Spanish by public officials.  The legislation also establishes minimum quotas for Catalan-language radio and television programming.  Some controversy continued over the implementing legislation and related regulatory measures. 

The Law of the Catalan Language, approved by the Catalan regional legislature (Generalitat) in 1998, stipulates the use of Catalan as the official language in local government and administrative offices, regional courts, publicly owned corporations, and private companies subsidized by the Catalan regional Government. Spanish-speaking citizens had the right to be addressed in Spanish by public officials. The legislation also established minimum quotas for Catalan-language radio and television programming. Some controversy continued over the implementing legislation and related regulatory measures.

The Law of the Catalan Language stipulated the use of Catalan as the official language in local government and administrative offices, regional courts, publicly owned corporations, and private companies subsidized by the Catalan regional Government. Spanish-speaking citizens had the right to be addressed in Spanish by public officials. The legislation also established minimum quotas for Catalan-language radio and television programming.
During the year, the Catalan regional government signed an agreement with various socio-economic institutions to increase the use of the Catalan language in public places. The Catalan Government also rejected the Government's decree mandating a specific number of Castilian Spanish language classes in all autonomous regions, calling it an "invasion" of autonomous responsibilities. Critics contended that efforts to promote the use of non-Castilian languages made it more difficult for Castilian speakers to live and work in those areas.

Citizens have filed more than 445 complaints with the Catalan regional government denouncing the lack of compliance with the law on linguistic policy, which requires that Catalan be the official language but provides Spanish-speaking citizens the right to be addressed in their native language. The Catalan Government has penalized the Post Office for repeatedly failing to comply with Catalan law.

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In the autonomous province of Catalonia, Catalan and Castilian are both official languages and both may be used in official institutions as well as in schools. However, during the year both Spanish and Catalan ombudsmen received isolated complaints of alleged discrimination against the use of either Castilian or Catalan (see section 5).
During the year the national ombudsman received approximately 50 complaints related to alleged discrimination in Catalonia, where both Castilian and Catalan are official languages, against the teaching of the Castilian language. During the year the Catalan ombudsman received 10 complaints related to discrimination against the teaching or use of the Castilian language and 33 complaints about the failure to use the Catalan language in Catalan official institutions (these complaints were from persons who wished to be served in Catalan but were served in Castilian), although the law requires that civil servants dealing with the public be able to speak both languages. Critics on one side asserted that limiting education in Castilian reduced opportunities for Catalans who wish to live or work outside Catalonia or who simply wish to speak Castilian, and circumscribed the opportunities of Castilian speakers in Catalonia. Others, however, insist on their right to be served in the Catalan language.

In October an estimated 5,000 writers, politicians, journalists, publishers, academicians, actors, and filmmakers reportedly signed a manifesto criticizing the firing of Cristina Peri, a writer/journalist for Catalunya Radio who said she was fired for speaking in Castilian rather than Catalan.

The controversy regarding official language policies continued, with complaints that current policies offend the right to an education in the "mother tongue," or Castilian Spanish. In 2007 the ombudsman received approximately 100 complaints regarding Catalonia's linguistic policies, and in March the "Platform in Defense of the Freedom of Choice in Language Election" filed a formal complaint against a school in the Basque Country.  The school had refused to offer all classes in Spanish. 
In October 2007 an estimated 5,000 writers, politicians, journalists, academicians, actors, and filmmakers signed a manifesto criticizing Cataluña Radio for firing a journalist for speaking in Castilian (Spanish), rather than Catalan (Catalonia's regional language).

In October 2008 Reporters without Borders identified ETA for threatening journalists, contending that several journalists in the country required personal protection or chose to leave the Basque Country due to such threats; the judicial sentence against the weekly El Jueves for printing an obscene cartoon of the prince and princess of Asturias; the summoning of daily Gara and Deia editors by a court for the publication of satirical images of King Juan Carlos; the Partido Popular's boycott of Grupo Prisa; and the firing of Cristina Peri Rossi by radio station Cataluña Radio for speaking in Castilian rather than Catalan.
The controversy regarding official language policies continued, with complaints that current policies offend the right to an education in the "mother tongue," or Castilian Spanish. In 2007 the ombudsman received approximately 100 complaints regarding Catalonia's linguistic policies, and in March 2008 the NGO Platform in Defense of the Freedom of Choice in Language Election filed a formal complaint against a school in the Basque Country. The school had refused to offer all classes in Spanish.
In April, 39 doctors at the sole hospital on Ibiza (one of the Balearic Islands) announced their decision to leave their jobs due to a new requirement that doctors be tested for fluency in Catalan. The decree, approved by the Balearic government on March 27, requires that doctors working in public service speak Catalan and provides a window of three years for them to learn it. The doctors' union asserted that the requirement was not for public benefit but rather the result of a "political obsession." In response to the decree, 2,500 persons participated in a demonstration protesting the Catalan language requirement.
According to security forces, 4,000 persons participated in a demonstration in Barcelona in September 2008 to protest the government's linguistic policies and to defend the right to have school classes taught in Castilian.

The controversy regarding official language policies continued, with some persons complaining that policies in Catalonia interfered with receiving an education in the country's majority language, Castilian Spanish. Likewise, there were instances of Catalan speakers raising concerns that the Catalan language was not equally favored.
On December 22, the Supreme Court ruled that Castilian Spanish must become a "vehicular language" or lingua franca in Catalonia's educational system. The decision involved three separate cases of Spanish-speaking parents pursuing legal action against the Catalan education system. The ruling came during the transition to the new Catalan government. Both the outgoing and incoming administrations defended the existing education model and maintained that the decision pertained to three individual cases and that no changes were needed in Catalan language policies. Catalan leaders in favor of the existing language-immersion model claimed that students could become equally proficient in Catalan and Spanish.
On September 14, the Catalan parliament approved a decree that will require new full-time professors at public and private universities to take a language examination before they are hired to prove that they have "C-level" (medium-high oral and writing communication level) proficiency in Catalan. The decree permits universities to exempt full-time research staff or professors teaching in a foreign language from the requirement. To prevent the loss of talented professors, universities can, in some cases, delay the test for up to two years after the actual date of hire. Some universities and educators criticized the decree as discriminatory, especially if the language of instruction is not Catalan.

On September 2, Catalonia’s Superior Court ordered the regional government to comply within two months with a 2010 Spanish Supreme Court ruling that Spanish become a vehicular language in Catalonia’s public schools. As of year's end, the Catalan government had not complied with the ruling. Catalan president Artur Mas staunchly defended the current educational model and stated that Catalonia’s language policy is a “red line” not to be crossed. Advocates of the Catalan immersion model cited studies showing that Catalan public school students performed as well as their counterparts in other parts of Spain on Spanish language proficiency tests.

2012 http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2012/eur/204341.htm

Recent Elections: National elections in November 2011 were considered free and fair, as were regional elections during the year in Andalusia, Asturias, Galicia, the Basque Country, and Catalonia*

In April the Supreme Court confirmed the suspension of seven articles of Barcelona’s regulations on the use of Catalan in the city hall that required all public documents and any oral communications to be presented in Catalan.

* Webmaster's note:  However, of the 155,923 Catalan living abroad who were registered on October 5 2012 to vote in the snap November 25 2012 election, called on the independence issue only 6% received the voting papers in time and were able to vote, as stated in the documents taken to court. This scandal was widely reported in the press, as being a deliberate strategy on the part of the Spanish government to reduce votes in favour of pro-independence parties. This is not mentioned in the 2012 Report.

1 comentari:

  1. "In April the Supreme Court confirmed the suspension of seven articles of Barcelona’s regulations on the use of Catalan in the city hall that required all public documents and any oral communications to be presented in Catalan".

    La segona frase és una absoluta mentida. Els articles finalment anul·lats no requereixen res a ningú i menys al ciutadà. Només diuen que l'Ajuntament usa el català en l'àmbit intern i de forma preferent de cara al públic, que sempre pot demanar el castellà. El Departament d'Estat del Estatuts Units faria bé d'informar-se una mica abans de creure segons quines fonts.

    ResponElimina