Draft laws on the functioning in Ukraine of regional and minority languages need revision


The Committee on Foreign Affairs has recommended that the Verkhovna Rada rework the draft laws on amendments to the laws “On ratifying the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages”, “On regional and minority languages”, “On local self-administration in Ukraine” (with regard to regional and minority languages”), and the Civil Procedure Code (on eliminating language discrimination).
The main fault of the draft laws which the Committee focused on was that many of the provisions run counter to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
The Committee pointed out that an initial mistake was in an inaccurate translation into Ukrainian of the English term «minority languages» (which in the Ukrainian is “languages of minorities”). The Committee’s analysis also found that the draft laws effectively propose a change in the mechanism for implementing provisions of the Charter. They introduce, for example, a differential approach to protecting regional and minority languages by imposing two regimes for the Charter’s action: “general” and “extended”.
In addition, whereas the Charter does not make any distinction between languages which it applies to, with all attributed equal status, the implementation of the draft law proposals is aimed at highlighting one of those languages (Russian). This, the Committee points out, contravenes Ukraine’s commitments within the framework of the Council of Europe, as well as Article 24 of the Constitution of Ukraine which prohibits discrimination, including on grounds of language.
This conclusion, the Committee stressed, applies to another aspect - creating the legal basis for defining the territory (administrative-territorial units) where the provisions of the Charter can be applied. The linking of language – territorial identification of languages to administrative-territorial units is also considered unwarranted, as is the creation of a mechanism for defining administrative-territorial units on whose territory regional and minority languages are widespread.
The State Deputies in the Committee also believe that the proposal to leave the recognition of such languages to the exclusive competence of bodies of local self-government (village, settlement, city, district, and regional councils) would also lead to Ukraine not complying with its commitments before the Council of Europe since according to the Council this is the prerogative of the State as a whole.

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