Colombo taking steps to enforce Official Language Policy - Language Commissioner

[TamilNet, Saturday, 07 June 2003, 13:03 GMT]
"Although Sinhala, Tamil and English were declared as official languages fifteen years ago Sri Lanka governments of the past have not taken adequate measures to facilitate use of Tamil in Government offices of the Northeast," said D.U.Gunasekara, Head of the Official Language Commission briefing the press Friday in Rajagiriya, Colombo.

"The official language policy mandates the use of Tamil in Government transactions in Tamil speaking areas but there has been gross negligence in enforcing the use of Tamil. Lack of language proficiency of Government workers, low priority given by the higher level officials to proper implementation of the language policy and shortage of funds are the main reasons for this failure," said Mr. Gunasekara.

Although Police officers in the Northeast have been instructed to record complaints and obtain statements from witnesses in Tamil, currently this practice is not followed because of the lack of proficiency in Tamil of the majority of officers who are Sinhalese. A circular is being sent out to make it mandatory for the Police officers to attach the written statement in Tamil by the witnesses in the records book, Mr. Gunasekara said.

In additions, Pradeshya sabhas across the Northeast have been directed to make arrangements to facilitate issuing birth, death and wedding certificates in Tamil.

Mr. Gunasekera added that the Government Publications Department is being instructed enforce strict procedures to ensure that all Government publications are produced in Tamil, English and Sinhala. Arrangements are also being made to teach Tamil to the Sinhala officials in Health, Education and Police departments working in Northeast.

His office will be focusing on taking steps to enforce the use of Tamil in Government offices, the Commissioner added.


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