Services | 19.07.2009

Proposals for free translation services for defendants in EU countries

The European Commission is planning to provide free translation services for defendants. If a person is accused of a crime while abroad and needs to appear in court, it is frequently the case that they won’t speak the local language, which can put them at a huge disadvantage. By providing free translation services, defendants can at least be kept fully informed as to what’s happening as well as any potential ramifications.

In order to counter this, the European Commission has drafted proposals which will ensure free translation services for any person who is accused of a criminal offence in another EU nation.

Such a move was first proposed two years ago, but six countries blocked it. One of those six nations was Ireland, who countered that these rights were already covered by the European Convention on Human Rights and said that the resulting situation would cause confusion.

Criminal lawyer, James MacGuill, believes Ireland should embrace the new plan:

“Ireland has shown no lack of willingness to introduce EU laws on the enforcement side, but things remain utterly blocked on the procedural safeguards for Irish citizens abroad and for citizens throughout the EU.”

Jacques Barrot, EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner, has redrafted the plan. The new version is shorter, but would give people the right to make use of high quality translation services at all stages of criminal proceedings in 27 member countries.

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