Estonian policemen fined for poor knowledge of official language
TALLINN, January 29, - RAPSI, Nikolai Adashkevich. The Estonian Language Inspectorate (Keeleinspektsioon) has fined 67 policemen in northeastern Estonia, an area which has a large Russian speaking community, for poor knowledge of the official language, Leho Klaser, head of the inspectorate's supervisory section, told journalists on Tuesday.
Klaser said the decision followed a language proficiency testing campaign conducted by the Ida Police Prefecture at the end of last year. The tests showed that only 16 policemen of 145 speak Estonian at the required C1 level, which certifies a more or less fluent standard.
The Inspectorate ordered 129 police officers to improve their Estonian language fluency and pass the C1 exam before December 1, 2013. Another 67 policemen who failed to fulfill the same orders issued earlier will have to pay EUR 3,591 in fines. At the same time, the Inspectorate noted that the Ida Prefecture has no policemen who do not speak any Estonian at all.
The Language Inspectorate is a government agency which reports to the Estonian Ministry of Science and Education. Its responsibility is to enforce the language use requirements in government agencies and local elected authorities, as well as in services, retail and healthcare.
The Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities advised Estonia to stop imposing fines for violation of language requirements and to consider abolishing the Language Inspectorate.
Amnesty International in 2007 criticized the Estonian Language Inspectorate and termed it a “punitive agency.”