Anne Brunke, University of Coimbra, Portugal
Pursuant to article 92, no. 1 of the Portuguese Code of Criminal Procedure the language used at any procedural act, written or oral, is Portuguese. The procedural acts in which this rule is violated are considered void. Therefore, each court is required to provide, at judiciary expense, a translator/interpreter in judicial proceedings for a party who speaks only or primarily a language other than Portuguese.
Unfortunately, there is no official selection procedure at Portuguese Courts for legal translators/interpreters, which can jeopardize the citizens’ fundamental right to use their mother tongue in court and can therefore lead to unfair trials.
The current circumstances do not absolutely guarantee the Right to liberty and security and the Right to a fair trial of the Convention for the protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Consequently, it is of fundamental importance to alert the Portuguese authorities to the fact that the creation of a classification scheme for legal translators/interpreters is indispensable.
The establishment of a European Legal Interpreters and Translators Association and the creation of a European Master’s degree in Translation (EMT) in Portugal will certainly be of great advantage to the implementation of higher expertise in the field of translation/interpretation within the Portuguese legal system.