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Fair trial: suspects’ right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings

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Fair trial: suspects’ right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings

SUMMARY OF:

Directive 2010/64/EU — the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings

SUMMARY

WHAT DOES THIS DIRECTIVE DO?

It establishes minimum EU-wide rules on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings and in proceedings for the execution of the European Arrest Warrant.

It is the first step in series of measures to establish minimum rules for procedural rights across the EU in accordance with a 2009 roadmap. It was followed in 2012 by the directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings.

KEY POINTS

Right to interpretation

Interpretation must be provided free of charge to suspected or accused persons who do not speak or understand the language of the criminal proceedings including during:

police questioning

essential meetings between client and lawyer

all court hearings and any necessary interim hearings.

Interpretation via videoconference, telephone or internet can be used if the physical presence of the interpreter is not required to ensure fairness.

Right to translation of essential documents

Suspected or accused persons who do not understand the language of the proceedings must be provided with a written translation of documents that are essential for their defence. This includes:

any decision depriving a person of his liberty

any charge or indictment

any judgment.

The competent authorities may decide to translate any other documents on a case-by-case basis. The suspected or accused persons or their legal counsel may also request the translation of other essential documents.

In proceedings for the execution of a European Arrest Warrant, persons concerned must be provided with interpretation and with a written translation of the warrant, if necessary.

Quality of interpretation and translation

Translation and interpretation must be of sufficient quality to allow the persons concerned to understand the case against them and to exercise their right of defence. To this end, EU countries are required to set up a register of independent and qualified translators and interpreters, which should be available to legal counsels and relevant authorities.

WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE ENTER INTO FORCE?

On 15 November 2010. It was to be transposed into EU countries’ national law by 27 October 2013.

BACKGROUND

Right of the accused to interpretation and translation.

ACT

Directive 2010/64/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings (OJ L 280, 26.10.2010, pp. 1-7)

last update 30.10.2015

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