On September 16th 2011, the European Foundation of Human Rights has made a petition to the State Language Inspectorate to call the Minister of Education and Science, Gintaras Steponavičius, to management responsibility for sending 26 thousand letters in a language other than the official  (Polish, Russian and Belarusian) to the students attending minority schools. This step aimed to see if the State Language Inspectorate would dare to persecute for the alleged violation of the Act on the official language an official of a high standing with equal perseverance as an ordinary citizen.

The reply of the State Language Inspectorate came as a pleasant surprise. According to the Inspectorate, the official correspondence does not necessarily have to be in the official language. The letter can be in Polish, Russian, French or even Japanese. The only requirement being the official translation of the original letter, which has to be in the official language (in Lithuanian). So, the Minister of Education and Science, Gintaras Steponavičius, did not break the law since ‘it is not against the Law on the State Language when the correspondence in other languages is a translation of the official document. The law of the Republic of Lithuania does not prohibit translating official documents into other languages.’

Such interpretation of the Law on the State Language constitutes a major change and has far-reaching consequences. According to the State Language Inspectorate, for instance, it is within the competence of the Municipality of a region with a large minority to make an administrative decision, which will then be archived and only an official translation of the document will be sent to the person in question.

The reply, pursuant to Art. 4 of the Law on the State Language is binding for all Lithuanian institutions, government offices, companies and organisations.

Tłumaczenie Katarzyna Różańska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Katarzyna Różańska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.