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NEWS

Template to request access to interpretation services

Read the story of Sonia, unable to understand her hearing during the COVID-19 crisis, and learn how EU law can help her! Sonia's story is fictional but is inspired by similar events* that have happened across Europe during the pandemic.

Sonia doesn’t speak the court's language and needs the assistance of an interpreter to follow the court hearings and to exchange with her lawyer. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, her hearing took place remotely with both her lawyer and the interpreter attending from different locations. Her lawyer noted disruptive long pauses and overlapping speech between the interpreter and the judge, making it difficult for Sonia to understand and actively follow the proceedings. 

Under EU law, Member States must provide interpretation services without delay during criminal proceedings, including police questioning. The right to interpretation requires a quality of interpretation which enables the accused not only to understand but also to “actively participate” in the proceedings. 

Have you recently experienced a similar challenge? Are you a criminal lawyer whose client has faced the same issues?  

Fair Trials has produced a template based on relevant EU standards to request access to (adequate) interpretation services. 

Download the template here or view the pdf version in your browser here. 

This template is part of a toolkit which aims to equip lawyers with arguments to address the threat to the right to a lawyer as a result of measures adopted in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out more here.

* Examples include: 

  • United Kingdom: A report published by the University of Surrey in April 2020 noted the occurrence of disruptive long pauses and overlapping speech in remote hearings involving an interpreter. It also noted that it was difficult for participants to establish when an interpreter had finished speaking, meaning that they are not always given enough time to interpret. 

 

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please call the media team on +44 (0) 7749 785 932 or email [email protected]

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