A law approved by the European Union Justice Ministers in 2010, ensuring the supply of translators and interpreters at criminal proceedings took effect as of last month. The law provided three years for the members of the European Union to adopt the measures so that every country had enough time to plan for the proper translation of information of all kinds and for the arrangements related to court interpreters, who belong to a generally complicated employment area affected by the insufficient number of trained professionals.
In October 2010, the European Union Justice Ministers passed the first of a series of measures to standardise the criminal system around the European Union. The piece of legislation established that every suspect has the right to have access to an interpreter, who should be assigned to him or her for the entirety of the proceedings in any case they need one. In that way, suspects would understand what is happening around them, both in the trial and while they receive legal advice from their lawyers.
The law also establishes the need for all the paperwork to be translated into the suspect’s language, together with any other essential document. This constitutes another way of ensuring the right to a fair trial in all courts in the European Union. The costs of all the translation and interpreting services are to be covered by the Member States instead of the suspects.
According to the European Union’s Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, the Commission will be on the lookout for those countries which do not follow the new law, as it is already meant to be happening. She highlighted the importance of following the directives as a way to ensure the affirmation of individual rights.
The Rationale behind the Law
The law is the first one to ever establish a common standard to protect the rights of suspects in criminal cases across countries in the European Union. The reason behind the measure is related to the idea that, without these standards, authorities from different countries would be reluctant to allow for an individual to be trialled in a country other than their own, thus deeming tools such as the European Arrest Warrant useless.