A former Dutch councilor from Friesland ignited a discussion about the right of Frisians to speak their language in court after he declined to speak Dutch during a hearing.
According to the Dagblad van het Noorden, Jan Benedictus, a member of the Fryske Nasjonale Partij (FNP), appeared in a court in Zwolle on August 17 to testify in a case. During the proceedings, he refused to speak Dutch, and instead insisted on speaking Frisian.
The judge asked Benedictus to give testimony in Dutch, but the former councilor declined, asserting that he had the right to speak Frisian in court.
Benedictus eventually left the courtroom after the judge denied his request to speak his mother tongue. The incident has put the spotlight on the right of Frisians to speak their language in court.
The Frisian language is a West Germanic language that is spoken by about 450,000 people in the Netherlands and Germany. It is the official language of the province of Friesland, and it is also recognized as a minority language in the German state of Lower Saxony.
The right of Frisians to speak their language in court has been a contentious issue for many years. In 1991, the European Court of Justice ruled that Frisians have the right to use their language in court, but this ruling has not been fully implemented in the Netherlands.
The incident involving Jan Benedictus has brought renewed attention to the issue. The FNP has called for a boycott of the Dutch courts until Frisians are guaranteed the right to speak their language. The party’s leader, Douwe Klaas van der Woude, said that the incident was “a clear violation of the rights of Frisians.”
“We will not allow our language to be suppressed,” van der Woude said. “We will continue to fight for the right of Frisians to speak their language in court.”
The Dutch government has not yet commented on the incident.
The case has reignited the debate on social media about the right of Frisians to speak their language in court, with some people calling for greater protections for minority languages and others arguing that the Dutch language should be the only language used in the courts.