COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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Finland/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.9 Language laws

The Swedish-speaking Finnish population is not only a national minority. The basic ideology of nation-building stipulates that Finland has two parallel cultures, one based on the Swedish-language and the other on the Finnish-language. The rights of the Swedish-speaking population are guaranteed in the newly re-codified Finnish Constitution (1999) and further enacted by a special Language Act, which, together with some special laws, provides for equality for official (administrative, court) use of the native language and access to education and public careers. The new Language Act was passed in 2003 and was enforced from the beginning of 2004; it does not expand language rights but aims at better safeguarding of these rights in practice.

The Constitution gives a special position also to Sami people (as an indigenous minority), to the Roma people and to the users of sign language by mentioning them specifically, but guarantees all minority groups the right "...to maintain and develop their own language and culture". The language rights of these minorities, as well as foreigners, in legal and administrative processes are guaranteed with laws and statutes. The cultural rights of these groups are also enshrined by the ratification of international conventions, especially by the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for the Protection of Regional or Minority Languages.


Chapter published: 25-04-2017

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