1. Legislation: Legislation dealing with the use of languages
The Draft Constitution of the Republic of Albania, adopted on August 4, 1998
Updated (August 2002)
According to the Constitution (Article 14) the official language in the Republic of Albania is Albanian, the national minorities, under Article 20 of the Constitution, have the right to preserve and develop, to study and to be taught in their mother tongue.
The right to use the mother tongue privately and in public is guaranteed in practice as well. The individuals of national minorities use their language freely in the daily life, in public meetings, in their associations, in electoral campaigns, in their press and publications of cultural, literary, historical or scientific character, in the media and in religious ceremonies. An important factor contributing to the preservation and development of the mother tongue of minorities is also the existence of numerous public schools for their children.
THE LAW ON PRESS
The Law on Press No.7756, dated October 11, 1993, has been amended with the Law No.8239, from September 3, 1997, and has actually only one article saying: “The press is free. Freedom of press is protected by law.” A new project, entitled “the Act of the Press Freedom” was recently published in the Albanian press, to be subjected to an open discussion and to receive the necessary political and professional consensus. In this context, the representatives of the national minorities will make their remarks and suggestions as well.
On the basis of the above-mentioned existing law, the persons of the national minorities enjoy, like all Albanian citizens, the right to create printed media in their native language. The press of the national minorities, as all the press in Albania, is not subjected to prior censorship.
THE LAW ON PUBLIC AND PRIVATE RADIO AND TELEVISION IN THE REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA
Law No.8410, from September 30, 1998 on Public and Private Radio and Television in the Republic of Albania guarantees the national minorities access to the electronic media. Article 39 of this law prohibits the broadcasting of programs which incite violence, aggressive war, national and racial hatred etc., whereas Article 36 says that public and private radio and television programs shall respect the personal dignity and fundamental human rights, the impartiality, entirety, truthfulness and pluralism of information, the rights of children and teenagers, public order and national security, the Albanian language and culture, constitutional and human rights of national minorities in compliance with international conventions signed by Albania, and the religious diversity in Albania.
While Article 37 writes: “The use of the Albanian language is obligatory for all programs, except for musical works with lyrics in a foreign language, foreign language teaching programs, the programs intended specifically for national minorities, and programs of local radio-television subjects licensed to broadcast in the language of minorities.”
On this basis, the establishment of local radio and television stations by persons of the national minorities in their mother tongue is guaranteed. A license can be received from the National Radio and Television Council and the requests for the license are made pursuant to the law, and in conformity with the recognized international standards. The National Radio and Television Council has not received any request for a license to establish local radio or television stations from a person belonging to national minority living in Albania.
THE LAW ON ALBANIAN RADIO AND TELEVISION PROGRAM
Under Article 69 of the Law 8410 on the Albanian Radio and Television program, (ART) the state is, among others, obligated to release information for national minorities from the central and regional broadcasting studios. Though this obligation is expressly contemplated, the law does not determine concrete ratios or percentage of broadcasting time devoted to the national minorities.
THE CODE OF PENAL PROCEDURE
The Code of Penal Procedure, point 2, Article 8 contemplates that in all the phases of the juridical process persons who do not know Albanian use their mother tongue, and, through an interpreter, have the right to speak and be informed of the evidence and acts, and of all juridical procedures. Article 98, point 2, of the same Code contemplates that a person who does not speak the Albanian language is interrogated in his/her mother tongue and the verbal process is kept in this language as well. The procedural acts given to this person, at his request, are translated in the same language. Also witnesses in a juridical process have the right to testify in their own language.
The right to use their language or to have the acts drafted in their mother tongue during the civil juridical process is entitled also to the persons who do not speak the Albanian language. Article 27, paragraph 2 of the Civil Procedure Code, contemplates that the persons who do not know Albanian, use their language. They are informed of the evidence and of all the juridical procedure through an interpreter. While Article 116, paragraph 2, says that the court calls a translator when persons giving their testimony do not know the Albanian language or for the translation of documents written in a foreign language.
In order to guarantee the rights of a person who does not know the Albanian language during the penal and civil process, the Albanian legislation determines detailed rules regarding the assistance without charge of a translator, his presence even in the cases when the judge, the prosecutor or the officer of judicial police know the language to be translated, the obligations of the translator for the accuracy of translation and the protection of secrecy, for cases of incapability and incompatibility to carry out the duty, exclusion, renunciation and substitution of the interpreter, the deadlines for the written translations and the obligatory calling of the interpreter who, for no legal reasons, does not appear, charging him with the same penal and civil responsibility as the expert.
THE LAW ON THE PRE-UNIVERSITY EDUCATION SYSTEM
Equal rights to all offers also the legislation on the field of education. Article 3 of the Law 7952, dated June 21, 1995 on the Pre-University Education System guarantees equal rights to all citizens to study, regardless of social situation, nationality, language, gender, religion, race, political conviction, health situation and economic level.
While Article 10, point 1, of the same law, says that opportunities shall be created for persons belonging to national minorities to study and be taught in the mother tongue, to learn their history and culture within the framework of the school curricula. The legal frame for this purpose is also complemented with other sub-legal acts, such as the decisions of the Council of Ministers “On Elementary Education of National Minority in the Native Language,” and “On the Start of Teaching Greek Language in some High Schools,” and the respective instructions by the Ministry of Education and Science.
The public use and display of traditional local names, street names and other topographic signs is not regulated by any specific law. But in fact, there are no real obstacles to use names even when they are in the national minority languages. In cases deemed reasonable, or when requested, the local authorities of the minority areas are free to decide on these issues, certainly taking into account the limits linked with the rules of urban planning management.