The article entitled “The European Foundation of Human Rights did not prove that toilets cannot be referred to in short as WC” was published on 18 July 2013 on the web page of online portal Alfa (www.alfa.lt). The article described a court case concerned with using the abbreviation WC in public. The proceedings were started following a complaint filed by the European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) which appealed against the decision of the Commission of the Lithuanian Language (Valstybinė kalbos inspekcija). EFHR pointed out that there is no such letter as ‘W’ in the Lithuanian alphabet, hence the abbreviation WC should be replaced by Lithuanian terms such as “toilet” (tualetas) or “bathroom” (vonios kambarys). The Commission adopted a decision which states that referring to a toilet with the well-known shortened form WC does not violate the Law on the State Language. The Vilnius District Administrative Court discontinued the trial and did not deal with EFHR’s complaint.
On 19 July 2013 EFHR filed an application to the Editor’s office at Alfa.lt in which it asked them to change the title of the article. According to EFHR, such a title does not express the real situation and may cause misunderstandings, due to which it should be rewritten. The General Administrative Law Act states that: “There are no proofs that have an established force of evidence before the court. The court appraises evidence going by its internal conviction based on comprehensive and objective analysis of every circumstances of the case, as well as by the legal act, also by criteria of wisdom and righteousness.” On the basis of this rule the court assesses the evidence but only after hearing the case’s complete material and examining all evidence provided. During this particular trial, the case was not dealt with factually and all proofs given were neither examined nor considered. That is why the statement that the party which submitted the complaint had not proved its right, is a misuse. What is more, in its application, EFHR asked for a correction of the following statement: “In the opinion of the Board of the Vilnius District Administrative Court, the European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR), which also defends the rights of ethnic minorities, had not proved that toilets cannot be called what the majority of people are used to – simply WC. EFHR failed appealing against the decision of the Commission of the Lithuanian Language – judges of the Court decided that this decision is only informative due to which it is not even worth dealing with.” That declaration is simply not true.
The application filed by EFHR was considered favourably and the title of the article has been changed to: “A court has not taken into consideration the case whether calling a toilet WC is acceptable.” Furthermore, the statement that EFHR wanted to be rewritten has also been changed. You can read the article here.