A number of EU Member States took the initiative for a Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings that will continue the efforts undertook last year, which almost ended in the adoption of a Framework decision on the right to interpretation and translation. The relevant texts are attached.
A number of points in these documents need to be highlighted, so that legal interpreters’ and translators’ association can raise these points in their contacts with the respective ministries of justice. These are, in particular:
- Together with the Framework decision on the right to interpretation and translation, a “Proposal for a Resolution of the Council and the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council fostering the implementation by Member States of the right to interpretation and to translation in criminal proceedings“ was adopted which refers to the final report of the “Reflection Forum on Multilingualism and Interpreter Training“ and contains recommendations on the implementation of the framework decisions. A document of this type and content would again be highly welcome in connection with the current initiative for a directive, as it will provide many Member States with a tool to implement the directive (see Article 5 of the directive). At the same time, such a document would eventually also make it possible to better compare the systems for legal interpretation and translation in Member States.
- Recital 11) provides that Member States should not be obliged to ensure interpretation of communication between the suspected or accused person and his/her legal counsel in cases where they can effectively communicate in the same language. Practical experience shows, however, that misunderstandings may frequently occur, especially in contacts of this nature, due to the insufficiencies of the language communication. It should therefore be ensured that a qualified interpreter is also provided for this type of communication, which will also allow the lawyer to focus on the important legal issues and not be detracted by linguistic issues.
- Para. 6 of Article 3 of the text of the draft directive provides that an oral translation or oral summary of the documents be provided, where appropriate, instead of a written translation. Given the often considerable complexity of the texts requiring translation in court proceedings, as well as the often tense atmosphere in the courtroom, inaccuracies may occur when providing an oral translation which may of detriment to the defendant. One should therefore not envisage such a solution.
The Executive Committee of EULITA welcomes the expediency with which work is under way on a Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings and hopes that the time schedule, i.e. adoption of the Directive under the Spanish Presidency, can be met.
23 February 2010 The Executive Committee of EULITA