During the 74th PEN International Congress, held in September of 2008 in the Colombian capital of Bogotá, Josep M. Terricabras was chosen as president of the International Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee. With this nomination, PEN Català consolidated its position at the forefront of the most active PEN centres and, yet again, ensured that Catalonia held a privileged place in a forum as prestigious as PEN International. Terricabras’ action strategy for the Committee was based on the defence of languages as a basic and fundamental human right and on extending support to the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights, promoted by PEN Català, translated into more than 15 languages and accepted by most of the world’s governments.
One of the President’s commitments to the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee is to organise its annual meetings. The first was held in April 2009, in the headquarters of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, or IEC, (Institute of Catalan Studies) and coincided with the ICORN assembly, which had also met in Barcelona. The sessions alternately focused on issues related to translation and linguistic rights. The Committee reflected on the state of translation in the different linguistic areas. The second meeting was held in Barcelona and the third in Girona in May 2011. Led by Josep M. Terricabres, 50 delegates representing 30 PEN centres from around the world participated in the meeting. John Ralston Saul, president of PEN International, and Hori Takeaki, its General Secretary also attended. As part of the meeting, the Girona Manifesto, a set of guidelines which brings together the main points of the Barcelona Declaration, was completed and signed. This Manifesto was officially approved during the 77th PEN Congress in Belgrade.
On the issue of the defence of Linguistic Rights, PEN Català’s denunciation of the marginalisation of Catalan in the judicial system during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), to which the Spanish State was subject at the headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, was remarkable. Through PEN International’s representative, PEN Català presented a report denouncing the infringement of citizens’ rights to use their own language inside courtrooms. This report made it to the session in which organisations and UN member states assess the extent to which the Spanish State complies with fulfilling human rights. The report’s statistics demonstrated the limited use of Catalan in sentencing, oral trials and judicial documents. The report urged both Catalan and Spanish governments to put in place all the necessary mechanisms to ensure the possibility of using Catalan in the judicial system in any circumstance.