TALLINN, June 5 (RAPSI) – Estonia’s Language Inspectorate will stop fining people for an inadequate knowledge of the Estonian language, Minister of Education and Research Jevgeni Ossinovski said in parliament.

The minister said that amendments to that effect had been sent to parliament. “From January 1, violations of the Law on Language will not be punishable in terms of the penitentiary legislation. We will not fine people for the violation of language requirements,” Ossinovski said.

In 2013, the Language Inspectorate imposed EUR 10,700 of fines for these violations. The biggest sum total of these fines was recorded in 2007 and amounted to over EUR 22,000.

The Language Inspectorate is a government agency at the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. It is responsible for enforcing language requirements in government agencies and among the local elected authorities, as well as in services, retail and healthcare.

The Council of Europe’s Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities advised Estonia to stop imposing fines for the violation of language requirements and to consider abolishing the Language Inspectorate. In 2007, Amnesty International criticized the Estonian Language Inspectorate and termed it a “punitive agency.”