- February 27, 2014
The Court Leaves the Way For Polish Names Clear?
The parliament, at the request of the linguists, can change the control regulation on spelling of names on the Lithuanian citizens’ identity cards, decided on the 27th of February the Constitutional Court. This leaves the way clear for changing the legislation according to the postulates of the Polish minority in Lithuania. They have been fighting for the Polish spelling of names for years.
So far the authorities in Vilnius have rejected this postulate, hiding behind earlier decisions of the Constitutional Court. They have constituted that the Lithuanian language is the state language and thus any record, including names in the identity cards, should have been written in Lithuanian.
A year ago the new government declared that they would solve the problem of the spelling of names, yet all the legislative initiatives had been blocked in the parliament by the earlier decisions. The government therefore turned to the linguists from the Commission of the State Language for them, as for experts, to submit their proposals for the change of the above-mentioned control regulation.
However, the Commission rejected the undertaking of such an initiative explaining that they had the appropriate letters of authority. The government asked the Constitutional Court for arbitrating the dispute and hence the decision that the Commission have had the letter of authority regarding the change in such a control registration.
The government representatives did not comment on the Court’s decision whether it made the compliance of the ethnic minorities’ postulates more possible, or not. According to experts, now the government should once again turn to the Commission and ask for their authorization to change the control regulation, which should be discussed in the parliament in the end.
Meanwhile, in the yesterday’s decision of the Constitutional Court there was also an explanation that before deciding on the spelling of names the parliament should receive clearly defined and justified position of the linguistic commission. The Court decide also that the parliament is obliged to take that position into account.
The Constitutional Court added that the parliament can decide on the control regulation concerning the spelling of names different from that given in the Supreme Council’s decision from 1991. It says that non-Lithuanian names and surnames in the Lithuanian identity cards have been written in the Lithuanian language.
Yesterday the parliament’s vice president Gediminas Kirkilas said that taking into account the Constitutional Court’s decision the government working group has been preparing a new control regulation on non-Lithuanian names. Kirkilas hopes that the issue of spelling the names in accordance with the Polish minority’s postulates can be solved in the nearest future.
In the meantime, the Justice Deputy Minister Paulius Griciūnas, representing in the court the government side could not have told yesterday whether the court’s decision has actually allowed for spelling of names using also non-Lithuanian letters and digraphs. He only stated that after the consideration of the linguists’ request his department would continue working on the project of a new language law.
Tłumaczenie by Roksana Kasperek w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Roksana Kasperek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.