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Taiwan: New Indigenous Languages Act

(June 21, 2017) On June 14, 2017, the Republic of China on Taiwan government promulgated the Indigenous Languages Development Act in order to “achieve historical justice, further preserve and promote the indigenous languages, and guarantee that the languages are used and passed down … .”  (Indigenous Languages Development Act (May 26, 2017), art. 1, Legislative […]

Taiwan: Draft Legislation on Indigenous Language Protection

(Dec. 3, 2015) On November 26, 2015, the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) of the Republic of China (on Taiwan) approved a draft law on the promotion of indigenous languages. (Cabinet OKs Indigenous Language Development Bill, TAIWAN TODAY (Nov. 27, 2015).) The Council of Indigenous Peoples (Yuan-chu min-tsu wei-yuan-hui, CIP) proposed the new legislation.  (Id.) The draft […]

Turkey: Defendants to Be Permitted to Use Mother Tongue in Court Statements

(Jan. 25, 2013) The Grand National Assembly (Turkey’s parliament) adopted a law on January 23, 2013, which, among other stipulations, allows suspects to use their native languages in court when giving defense statements. The controversial provision, which created a brawl among legislators of different parties, will bring to an end a long campaign by Kurdish […]

Sweden: Finnish Language Rights Extended

(Jan. 11, 2013) Finnish speakers in eight additional districts in <?Sweden will have the option of using their native language in retirement homes and pre-schools, following the adoption of a proposal on the subject by Swedish legislators late last month. The action came two years after Sweden included Finnish as one of the four minority […]

Ukraine: Minority Languages May Become Official in Parts of the Country

(Aug. 13, 2012) On August 8, 2012, the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, signed into law the Principles of State Language Policy Act adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament on July 3. (Yanukovich Signed into Law the Act on Status of Russian in Ukraine [in Russian], ROSSIISKAIA GAZETA (Aug. 8, 2012).) The Act was initiated by […]

Latvia: Constitutional Amendment on Russian Language Proposed

(Jan. 6, 2012) On January 3, 2012, the Central Election Commission of Latvia announced that a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would give the Russian language the status of a second official language in the country would be held on February 18, 2012. This decision followed the adoption of a Saeima (the Latvian legislature) […]

Slovak Republic: Venice Commission Recommends Further Amendment of Language Law

(Nov. 12, 2010) The Slovak Republic enacted a State Language Law that became effective on September 1, 2009. The Law limited the public use of languages of minority peoples in the country, imposed fines on those who use minority languages when they “should not be used,” and held agreements concluded in languages other than Slovak […]

Turkey: Sentences Lengthened for Use of Kurdish

(Oct. 27, 2010) It was reported on October 22, 2010, that a court in Turkey had penalized three Kurdish-speaking defendants for attempting to use their own language during their trial. A judgment was announced without allowing the defense a chance to speak, and an often applied “good conduct” abatement of punishment was disallowed. The resulting […]

Colombia: Recognition of Aboriginal Languages

(Sept. 1, 2010) On January 25, 2010, Colombia adopted Law 1381, which develops and regulates certain provisions of the Political Constitution and of Law 21 of 1991, which had approved Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries. Law 1381 regulates the recognition, promotion, protection, use, preservation, and […]

Switzerland: New Law Encourages Multilingual Culture

(Jan. 19, 2010) On January 1, 2010, a new Swiss law went into effect that aims at preserving the multilingual culture of Switzerland. (Bundesgesetz über die Landessprachen und die Verständigung zwischen den Sprachgemeinschaften (Federal Act on the National Languages), Oct. 5, 2001, Amtliche Sammlung des Bundesrechts 2007, 6605 available at The new Act implements […]