According to a press release of the human-rights organisation published on Tuesday, January 8, the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities urged the Lithuanian authorities to adopt a comprehensive legal framework, prevent discrimination against students from minority language schools and address negative stereotypes against Roma.
In its Opinion, the Committee welcomes the re-establishment of a department for national minorities, which has led to more visibility for national minority issues in national politics and to improved coordination. It further highlights the efforts made to improve the situation of Roma at national and local level, notably in Vilnius.
However, the absence of a comprehensive legislative framework continues to impede the implementation of important language rights, in particular the spelling of names in official documents and the use of minority languages on topographic indications. The introduction of a unified Lithuanian language curriculum and state exam in 2012 caused significant problems for students from minority language schools, in particular from Polish minority language.
The Opinion therefore calls on the Lithuanian authorities to take immediate action to:
– adopt, in consultation with minority representatives, a comprehensive legal framework protecting the rights of persons belonging to national minorities;
– take awareness raising measures to address negative stereotypes against Roma, in particular through training for teachers, police officials, and employees of local public administrations;
– bring legislation on the use of minority languages in dealings with administrative authorities, in private signs and topographical indications, and pertaining to the spelling of surnames and first names in official documents in line with the Framework Convention;
– ensure that education reform does not result in discrimination against students from minority language schools and involve minority language teachers in a strong advisory role; adopt a conceptual approach towards bi- and multilingual teaching in schools and pre-schools and support the exposure of children from national minorities to a Lithuanian-language environment and vice versa.