15 Oct 2010

New way sought to deal with France's ban on Tahitian language

4:28 pm on 15 October 2010

A lawyer in French Polynesia says a new legal avenue has to be found to establish whether the use of the Tahitian language in the French Polynesian assembly can be made legal.

This comes after the European Court of Human Rights had thrown a 2006 complaint challenging the French ban on Tahitian by saying it wasn't in its powers to decide what language a parliament should use.

The lawyer, Phillippe Neuffer, says a new way has to be found to deal with the question of perceived discrimination because the European ruling leaves it up to Paris to be the judge on the matter.

A former assembly member, Sabrina Birk, who lodged the complaint, says Tahitian is widely used and imposing French in all official dealing is both discriminatory and abusive because it also entails judging people in a language they don't understand.

She says the French constitution's insistence on there being only one language clashes with the principle of people being equal in the eyes of the law.