Editorial: English and the Law

POSTED: 02/28/14 11:42 PM

The translation of the Organic Laws of St. Maarten into English is a great step forward in social justice for the island. Too many of its citizens and residents remain in the dark or are often baffled when served legal or official documents. At a certain point, government and the justice system must serve the interests of the people, not the other way around.

The translations respect the history of the island and its cultural reality. There are other examples in the world where this holds true. In Canada, for example, both English and French serve as the official national languages, respecting Canada’s founders. Closer at home in the Kingdom, West Frisian is also an official language of the Netherlands alongside Dutch.

Language is power, and to have a political and legal system operating in a language in which most of its subjects do not speak inevitably creates a small, but powerful, elite who most benefit from it.

After all, in what language are the island’s two major newspapers printed in? ‘Nuff said.

 

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