The Conseil Européen pour les Langues / Europen Language Council (CEL/ELC) addressed the issue of language and rights (language rights, translation and interpreting as a human right) a few years ago with the work of the Special Interest Group on Translation and Interpreting for Public Services (SIGTIPS) which led to the production of a Final Report published by the European Commission in 2011 (http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/scic/docs/sigtips_en_final_2011.pdf).
The current migration wave is now giving the issue of language and rights new prominence, although the narrative surrounding migration seems to be totally ignoring the language dimension, let alone the language rights dimension, inherent in the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people in Europe. The issue of language and rights, though, is not just about migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, but also about tourists, short-term residents and anyone who happens to be in a country, requires access to its structures and has little or no command of its language; and of course is also about minority language speakers. Failure to address the issue by the competent authorities is a blatant violation of principles enshrined in international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and may have very serious consequences for those whose rights are denied.
The CEL/ELC is now launching a Special Interest Group to investigate the situation in Europe, identify the most significant problems and suggest courses of action to tackle them, and is inviting expressions of interest to participate in the group.
Colleagues interested in becoming members of the group are invited to contact the group’s convener, Maurizio Viezzi (firstname.lastname@example.org).