The fate of the language law in Ukraine will decide the constitutional court

Судьбу закона о языке в Украине решит Конституционный суд

The constitutional court of Ukraine checks the language law on its constitutionality. A group of deputies argues that the law discriminare minorities. Is, to his other claims.

In the constitutional court (CC) of Ukraine on 7 July began the proceedings on the constitutionality of the law “On ensuring the functioning of Ukrainian as the state language”. The occasion was the appeal to the constitutional court of 51 deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of the previous convocation – mostly members of the parliamentary faction of the Pro-Russian Opposition bloc.

In the constitutional petition, filed by them in the COP 21 June 2019, it was argued that the language law is unconstitutional and does not regulate the use of languages of national minorities; and some legislative provision “means discrimination against Russian-speaking citizens”. The applicants also argued that the law on state language, adopted in April 2019, was approved with violations of the rules.

What the law provides about the language

The law “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state” entered into force on 16 July 2019. It enshrines Ukrainian as the only state language is mandatory for bodies of state power and public sectors throughout the state.

It also has a provision on the accountability for deliberate distortion of the Ukrainian language in official documents and creating obstacles in its application. Separately, the law notes that it does not apply to personal communication and the language of religious rites. On the linguistic rights of national minorities in the law it is not – they have to regulate individual legal act: law on national minorities.

For today the General framework provisions of the language law are already working in various fields, said in an interview with DW, the expert on the language issue, one of the coordinators of the public movement “Space of freedom” Taras Sumida. The Ukrainian language is used in particular in the organs of state power and government, in the bodies of border and customs control.

From 16 July 2020 will enter into force provision of the law on the use of the state language in the field of science and health. And in 2021 the official language will become mandatory for use in the service sector, shops, catering establishments. However, in the health sector and in the sphere of everyday life at the request of the client will speak in the language in which it is more convenient to communicate.

After another year shall come into force provision of the law, according to which employment in high government positions, the applicant will have to pass an exam on knowledge of the state language. In 2024 from 75 to 90 per cent will increase quotas on using the Ukrainian language radio and television. And the provision on fines for a repeated violation of the language law will be applied from 2022.

What criticized the language law

The current law is criticized not only members of the “Opposition bloc”. Appeals to review his sound almost from the first days of work of the Verkhovna Rada of the last convocation, and not only from Pro-Russian deputies, but also representatives from the ruling party “servant of the people”, which made more than one attempt, if not to abolish the law on language, then at least to change some of its rules.

Lately this idea was also supported by the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Dmitry Razumkov. “If we are talking about such important topics as language issue and cultural issues, return the temporarily occupied territories, it is necessary to take into account the positions of all”, – he said. Perhaps the greatest discontent among the ruling majority is the situation that duplicates one of the other articles of the law on education.

It refers to the transfer of all state secondary schools in September, 2020 to the teaching of the Ukrainian language. It is, above all, talking about Russian schools. Secondary schools, where teaching is conducted in languages of national minorities belonging to the languages of the countries of the European Union, will move to the Ukrainian until September 2023 th. In June, the relevant Committee of the Verkhovna Rada rejected the bill of the Deputy of the “Servant of the people” Maxim Bogunskogo who demanded to change the laws on language and education and to delay the transition of Russian schools in the Ukrainian language.

The Venice Commission recommends to revise the law

Critical remarks about the language of the law was expressed in the Council of Europe. The experts of the Venice Commission has recommended to revise the provisions providing for differential treatment of indigenous languages and languages of national minorities (regardless of whether they are official languages of the EU or not) and to suspend the implementation already in force provisions of the law as long as Parliament will not submitted the draft law on national minorities.

“The Venice Commission is a consultative body, so his grades are Advisory in nature,” – said in an interview with DW co-author of the language of the law, former MP Anna hopko. However, she emphasized that “minorities are not subject to the law on the state language”.

The constitutional court in the first place, will check if this action violates the language act, the provisions of 10th article of the Basic law, which States that “the state provides comprehensive development and functioning of Ukrainian language in all spheres of public life throughout Ukraine,” convinced the CSAC.

The authors of the law were ready to claim to the COP

The initiator of the adoption of the language law admitted that its constitutionality will want to challenge in court, so in the final stage of preparation involved former constitutional court judge Petro Stetsyuk, who worked there from 2006 to 2016, indicates Anna hopko. The judge Rapporteur at the constitutional court in the case of the language law is Serhiy Holovaty, representing Ukraine at the Venice Commission, and reviews of the meeting was prepared by international lawyer, doctor of legal Sciences Vladimir Vasilenko, who participated in the preparation of the text of the language law, she adds.

As regards the procedural claims referred to in the complaint of deputies, the coordinator of social movement “freedom” Taras Sumida convinced: “It is not the violation of the constitutional procedures that could affect the adoption of the law”. The expert believes that the constitutional court “will not accept a negative decision on the language law, but how quickly it can take a positive decision, it is difficult to say”.

Судьбу закона о языке в Украине решит Конституционный суд

Судьбу закона о языке в Украине решит Конституционный суд

Судьбу закона о языке в Украине решит Конституционный суд

Судьбу закона о языке в Украине решит Конституционный суд

The Verkhovna Rada