MINELRES: BEHATOKIA NEWSLETTER No. 7 (Observatory of Linguistic Rights)

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Thu Jul 8 18:03:41 2004

Original sender: ARGITALPENAK <argitalpenak@behatokia.org>

Dear Sir or Madam:
We have enclosed to this message BEHATOKIA NEWSLETTER No. 7, the
four-monthly digital newsletter from Hizkuntz Eskubideen
Behatokia/Observatory of Linguistic Rights. If you do not want to
recieve it more or you want more information about us, please, send an
e-mail to argitalpenak@behatokia.org or visit our website

Best Regards,

Paul Bilbao Sarria
75 Marcelo Zelaieta avenue, office 28
31014 IruÓea/Pamplone
Basque Country
Tel.: 0034 948 146 172
Fax: 0034 948 123 743

Behatokia Newsletter. June, 2004. No. 7

Legal Deposit: NA 1191/2002
No. 7. JUNE 2004

Behatokia presents its annual report for 2003 on the situation of
language rights

Analysis of 737 cases

Throughout 2003, the Basque Language Observatory for Linguistic Rights
processed 727 cases referred to them by members of the public, and 10
more cases which were taken up on their own initiative, two of which
came before the courts.

In order for these cases to be referred, Behatokia launched the “Basque
telephone” service in 2001. By means of this and based on the
experiences of members of the public, it was desired that the situation
of the violation of linguistic rights be measured in an objective way
and that a solution be provided to the said violations.

Origin of cases      Type of cases            Number

SENT IN BY           Complaints                 642
MEMERS OF            Positive commendations      23
PUBLIC               Consultations               17
                     Unable to process           36
                     Lacking documentation        9


INICIATIVES FORM     Legal court cases            2
BEHATOKIA            Preventative actions         8

                             TOTAL No CASES     737

With all this data, Behatokia has published its annual report – a
diagnosis of the situation of linguistic rights in Euskal Herria. Based
on this data, Behatokia wishes to provide two main contributions:

•Help the community of Basque speakers to realise or self-perceive the
real situation.

•Help public institutions to improve their performance.


1. The report corresponding to 2003 confirms the main conclusions drawn
the two previous years’ reports

2. Linguistic rights are violated in all the territories of Euskal
Herria. In all the territories of this language community, whether in
the south (within the Monarchy of Spain) or in the north (within the
French Republic), language rights are violated. Some local or regional
authorities have offered to elevate this right to official status, but
others, nevertheless, have not. It is tremendously important that (local
and central) government authorities provide official status to the
Basque language and have legislation in place that protects language
rights so that these rights are not violated. This is why we consider it
fundamental to recognise the official status of the language in all the

3. Linguistic rights are violated at all levels of public administration
in Euskal Herria. Public administration in both the French and Spanish
states systematically violate language rights, the Government of Navarre
are increasingly curtailing the rights of Basque speakers and, in the
Basque y en Autonomous Community, there are certain Departments that
appear time and time again: Health, Justice and Interior.

4. The violation of linguistic rights does not imply only the violation
of the fundamental principle of equality between two different human and
linguistic communities based on the Universal Declaration of Linguistic
Rights and taken up by Behatokia. In the great majority of cases, the
government administration does not even comply with the linguistic
legislation they themselves passed and which is in force in their

5. In some cases, the violations of language rights incur in the
negation of other fundamental rights (the right to equality, to
information, etc.), and, moreover, in dealings with these public
administrations, we find that not a few cases there is evidence of
offences being committed (discrimination, breaking of law by the
administrations, themselves, etc.)

6. Agreements amongst States are also being negatively affected, as in
the case of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
(signed by both the Spanish and the French States in 1992 and 1999
respectively, but only ratified by Spain in 2001) or the Framework
Agreement for the Protection of National Minorities (signed and ratified
by the Spanish State in 1995. The French State has not signed it)

7. Navarre is the counter-model of Europe, taking the road of official
reduction of rights. Navarre is the counter-model regarding the defence
of a minority language. The Navarre government have imposed restrictions
on legally recognised language rights, and these rights are being
systematically violated and denied to members of the public.

8. The Republic of France should recognise legal rights for the
Basque-speaking community, and likewise recognise their collective
rights. Thus, it is necessary to recognise the nature of Basque-speaking
community, and likewise the nature of the language itself; to rectify
the curtailments in the international minimum standards and ratify those
not ratified; to put into place effective policies that guarantee
language rights.

9. It behoves us to establish a specific and efficacious
judicial-administrative mechanism to guarantee language rights in order
to deal with and resolve cases of lawbreaking by the administration

10. The generalised and systematic violation of language rights has
consequences for the very perception that speakers have of their right
to use their own language. The imposed inferiority and legal
subordination suffered by Basque speakers for years has resulted in
these anomalous situations being regarded as “normal”.


As has become the norm, Behatokia has introduced into its annual report
specialised analysis of a number of aspects, taking into account the
seriousness of the complaints sent in by members of the public:

Regarding linguistic rights of Basque citizens and government bodies of
the Spanish State, Behatokia has denounced their systematic violations.
The main complaint of members of the public is that forms sent to them
by the Authorities are exclusively in the Spanish language. Moreover,
documents written in the Basque language are not even accepted, despite
the fact that Euskara is official. In addition, it is made impossible to
have a conversation in Basque.

Thus, apart from violating language rights, the two State
Administrations fail to comply with a level of State legislation in
force in the Basque Autonomous Community and in the Navarre Foral
Community. This leaves it quite clear that the Spanish State does not
comply with promises acquired on ratifying the European Charter for
Regional or Minority Languages. Finally, we have to say that the
violation of language rights means the violation of other fundamental
rights, recognised by the Spanish Constitution: equality before the Law
and the right to receive adequate protection in the courts of law, etc.

Referring to the IruÓea (Pamplone) City Council, we must point out that
it is violating, again and again, their own 1997 bye-law for the
regulation of the use of Euskara. According to a number of court rulings
in 2003 - the Navarre High Court of Justice or the Navarre
Administrative Arbitration Court - and the recommendations of the
Navarre ombudsperson, all have overturned the cutting back policy of the
IruÓea Council and have demanded that it complies fully with current
legislation, as the Council systematically violates the rights of the
public and current legislation.  Apart from social groups denouncing
these policies are, condemnation has come from the Helsinki General
Assembly of EBLUL of 13 September 2003. 

Also, the 30 of June 2003 the Spanish President accepted Statute Law
6/2003 to reform Article 56 of the General Statute Law on Prisons.
According to the new legislation, in order that prisoners can undertake
their university studies, the Prison Service has to sign an agreement
with the public university and, not being mobile and unable to have
lectures in situ, the law provides for agreements to be made with the
Madrid University at a Distance (UNED de Madrid). But UNED from Madrid
does not offer the option of subjects in the Basque language. This is
why the application of this law in practise, perpetuates the violation
of the language rights of Basque citizens currently in  prisons within
the Spanish State – it is made impossible for Basque inmates to take up
a university course in their own language. Worse still, the UNED
University in Madrid has taken the decision not to validate subjects
that have already been taken in Basque – because the official language
of the university is Spanish, and only Spanish and subjects studied in
any other language are not recognised.

In addition, in the 2003 report of the European Charter for Regional or
Minority Languages there appears a commentary in reference to the
application of Basque within the Spanish State. It has to be said that
the State does not comply at all with the promises adopted on ratifying
the agreement. In fact, we will be preparing a special Behatokia
Newsletter referring to this question.


Behatokia published the particular analysis carried out in its issue Nº
5 of
the electronic magazine Behatokia Newsletter. Some were mentioned in the

The right to speak in Basque and freedom of speech in prisons within the
Spanish State. As in 2002, some prisoners were prohibited from speaking
in Euskara with their families or with the doctor of their choice.

The situation of language rights of persons with impaired sight. Neither
ONCE (Spanish Blind Persons Organisation) nor other bodies have taken
steps to guarantee language rights of the visually impaired or of blind
persons, and the situation had not improved over the year 2003.

Behatokia concluded in its annual report that no advances had been made
as far as language rights were concerned in the area of health over the
year 2003 in Hego Euskal Herria (the South Basque Country, within the
Spanish State). Despite a decree being published for the normalisation
of the Basque language in the Osakidetza (Public Health Service) of the
Basque Autonomous Community, there has been no implementation thereof.
Behatokia has had a great number of complaints referred to it in this


Complaints to public institutions 
   ADMINISTRATION             %
Spanisn state administration 10,65 
French state administration   0,52 
Basque Auton. Government     25,97 
Government of Navarre        19,22 
Diputation of Araba           3,12 
Diputation of Bizkaia         2,60 
Diputation of Gipuzkoa        7,01 
Town councils                30,39 
Others                        0,52 

Complaints to private institutions 
   ACTIVITY                 %
Leisure                     5,45
Publications                0,78
Insurance agencies          0,78
Food                        0,78
Energy suppliers            3,50
Religion                    0,78
Finances                   10,89
Means of transport          4,67
Mass-media                  1,95
Education                   2,33
Sports                      5,06
Communication enterprises   6,23
Department stores          24,90
Shops                       1,17
Associations                6,23
Political Organisations    16,34
Health                      2,72
Restaurant, pubs…           1,95
Professionals               0,39
Services                    2,79
Others                      0,39


New director 
Hizkuntz Eskubideen Behatokiak has had a new director since November
2003. Juan Inazio Hartsuaga from Tolosa in Gipuzkoa took over the reins
of Behatokia from Ms Paula Kasares


75 Marcelo Zelaieta avenue, Building AA3, Office 28
31014 IruÓea/Pamplone. BASQUE COUNTRY
Tel.: 0034 948 146 172 
Fax: 0034 948 123 743