I would like to help today and donate

Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
CLOSE
NEWS

European Court of Human Rights finds violation of fair trial due to unfit interpretation

admin - August 29, 2018 - right to interpretation and translation

 

The European Court of Human Rights has recently condemned Slovenia for violating the right to a fair trial of a Lithuanian defendant, who was provided with translations and interpretation in Russian, a language that was not his mother tongue and he did not properly understand.

The Court found that the Lithuanian authorities had never asked the defendant, Mr. Vizgirda, whether he understood Russian well enough to face the complex communication of a trial. Instead, the domestic authorities relied on the questionable assumption that Russian was spoken widely in Lithuania.

Mr. Vizgirda was not informed of his right to translation and interpretation and, consequently, did not know he could ask for a different language, as required by the EU Directive on the Right to Interpretation and Translation, which was widely referred in the European Court’s judgment.  

The Directive, which was to be transposed by the EU Member States by October 2013, sets minimum common standards on the suspects’ and accused people’s right to interpretation in police interviews, hearings and in meetings with their lawyer, and their right to translation of essential documents.

Amongst other things, the Directive requires that “a procedure or mechanism is in place to ascertain whether suspected or accused persons speak and understand the language of the criminal proceedings”, which was clearly lacking in Mr. Vizgirda’s case.

Fair Trials had intervened in the case back in 2014 and encouraged the European Court to recognise the consensus, expressed in the Directive, that it is not sufficient to expect an accused to just ‘do his best’ and hope no unfairness arose. If there was an issue as to interpretation – as is undoubtedly the case when a third language is used – the criminal courts have to respond adequately through positive steps to control quality.

You can read Fair Trials' intervention here.

 

Image credit: FlickrCreative Commons License.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

Keep up to date

Receive updates on our work and news about Fair Trials globally

Activities in the following sections on this website are supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union: Legal Experts Advisory Panel, Defence Rights Map, Case Law Database, Advice Guides and Latest News. More information about our financial supporters is available here.