European citizens will have the right of interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings

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Alex Eames
Local time: 15:01
English to Polish
+ ...
Sounds great - in theory Jun 8, 2010

Sounds great for the interpreting profession in Europe - at least, in theory. Trouble is, the EU is busy going bust at the moment (although they haven't even realised yet) so I wonder who is going to pay for all this extra work?icon_wink.gif

I'm an optimist really. Just a bit sceptical about more costly EU legislation at a time when all the EU countries are facing austerity budget packages. The real answer if you want a fair trial is to learn the language of the country you migrate to, instead of expecting someone else to pay the price. (But then if everybody did that, there wouldn't be much need for our profession. It's not likely to happen any time soon).

Alex Eames


Daniel García
English to Spanish
+ ...
Would it cost more? Jun 8, 2010

More costly legislation?

I think most EU countries already have legislation in place to gurantee the right of a defendant for interpretation. It's like the right to have a lawyer, even if you cannot pay it. It's just a basic human right which most EU countris are implementing already, I believe.

Having a fair trial is not a problem the defendant wanting it and sombody else wanting it and somebody else paying for it. It's the responsibility of the society to gurantee that trials are fair.

Second, this type of legislation is not only addressed to emigrants but also to people who just happened to be visting the country.

According to the European Convention on Human Rights:

Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:

(a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;

(b) to have adequate time and the facilities for the preparation of his defence;

(c) to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require;

(d) to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;

(e) to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court.



Alex Eames
Local time: 15:01
English to Polish
+ ...
Fair enough Jun 9, 2010

If that's all true already, then nothing changes.


Aisha Maniar  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:01
Member (2003)
Arabic to English
+ ...
In an ideal world... Jun 10, 2010

States would comply full with the international obligations they sign up to and if that was the case here, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg would not have such a heavy caseload (all brought against State parties to the European Convention on Human Rights). Hence, there is a problem of linguistic representation for claimants and defendants in criminal (and civil) cases across the EU. I know of solicitors here in the UK who do not always have interpreters present when dealing with clients and cases, where only at a later stage when it goes to appeal, that they bother with translators to translate the documents involved. There are a range of factors involved, cost being just one of them. In fact, with respect to Article 6 (right to a fair trial), many countries, including the UK, are lacking when it comes to providing legal representation (through legal aid or similar programmes) in the first place. Both the Council of Europe and the EU are looking into this. However, since a good part of any case is how one interprets the language of the parties (including their body language, in some cases) and of the law, adequate translation and interpreting services are a must to ensure justice.
I believe this particular directive has come about through plans for the EU's accession to the ECHR under the Treaty of Lisbon. If it leads to EU States (all parties to the ECHR) respecting the right to a fair trial and other human rights, then I personally believe that is no bad thing and would help to reduce plenty of legal costs all round!
One discriminatory point, in my view, however in this directive is that it only applies to citizens. Many people live and pass through the EU who are not EU citizens and in the interest of equality before the law and the application of the ECHR, which they can claim (including Article 6), all persons present in the EU should be covered by this directive. Legal Aid in England and Wales covers non-nationals (for now) - this service includes both solicitors/barristers/other legal representation and translators/interpreters, where needed. I wonder if there is any similar provision in other States or is it exclusively for nationals of that State/other EU nations? I work with a couple of charities who help to provide legal and other services (including language) to British people imprisoned abroad, so I assume that may not be the case, but I may be wrong.
Just my views, Aisha


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European citizens will have the right of interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings

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