The use of Catalan in Justice has gone from minority to almost non-existent. From 20.1% of sentences in Catalan that were issued in 2005, it has gone to 6.9% in 2021, the lowest figure in the last three decades. To try to remedy the situation, the Ministry of Justice of the Generalitat de Catalunya has presented this Thursday a plan to guarantee the linguistic rights of Catalan speakers.
The Ministry of Justice, led by Lourdes Ciuró, has for the first time analyzed the use of Catalan in the broadest sense of the administration of Justice (not only judges and magistrates, but also lawyers, prosecutors, officials from judicial offices and penitentiary and forensic centers). Beyond the number of sentences, which confirm the low level of use of Catalan among togados, the level of non-compliance with the linguistic option chosen by Catalan speakers to process their demands stands out.
According to the data presented by Justice this Thursday, a total of 376,627 demands from the social, contentious-administrative and civil jurisdictions asked to be processed in Catalan, but received a response in Spanish from the judicial offices. A figure that worries the Government, even more so because, of the total demands that are presented in Catalonia, only 6% ask to be processed in Catalan.
In relative terms, this is 81.3% non-compliance with the linguistic option in the demands that request to be processed in Catalan. The percentage is reduced to 3% when the request requests a response in Spanish.
The lack of use of Catalan occurs long before reaching the courts: the Govern study reveals that 52.9% of classes in law degrees at Catalan universities are taught in Spanish, a percentage that rises to 65 .5% in compulsory master’s degrees to become a lawyer. In public universities, the percentage of teaching use of Catalan stands at 48%.
The Minister of Justice, Lourdes Ciuró, has pointed out the paradox that even the majority of Catalan Civil Law manuals are in Spanish. In 2021, only 38 people took the test for access to the legal profession in Catalan. In this way, students get used to using Catalan from the first stage of their training, which later makes it difficult to change the language and legal expressions.
“We want to encourage the use of Catalan to start reversing trends,” said Ciuró, who has presented several measures in this regard. Among them, they highlight a national pact for Justice together with all legal operators in which a working group will specifically address the linguistic issue. A QR code will also be launched in all courts with which to file complaints for violations of linguistic rights. .
“The goal is for Catalan to be the language of use also in Justice. If the will of the administrator is omitted, it does not help to feel close to Justice and if the right to language choice is not guaranteed, the right to effective judicial protection is not respected”, Ciuró asserted.