Cost in translation
Money is no object when it comes to the ‘right to a fair trial’
They say that one of the greatest of all human rights is the right to have a fair trial, and ‘equality before the law’ is seen as one of the key defining characteristics of any democratic country.
But with many countries becoming increasingly multicultural, language barriers can make the communication process that little bit trickier, thereby hindering an individual’s chances of receiving fair and equal treatment.
In 2007, British pop star Amy Winehouse was arrested in Norway on drug-possession charges and, despite the presence of police offers who could speak fluent English, her attorney argued that the lack of a qualified interpreter during the interrogation process meant that she was unable to receive fair counselling.
And in England, Lincolnshire Police recently revealed that they are currently spending more than £300,000 a year on translation services, covering almost fifty different languages.
Of course, this is a vital service that ensures alleged offenders receive fair treatment within the legal system and is now a standard service across most countries’ police forces.
In the UK alone, national police translation costs have increased from £13.5 million to £22 million in the past four years, with some constabularies using an international translation service called ‘Language Line’, which enables police officers to hold three-way conversations with interpreters by telephone; this is particularly useful when specialised real-time interpreting is required at very short notice.
But ultimately, this expenditure not only demonstrates the increasing requirement for translation services within the UK legal system, but also a real commitment from the powers that be to offer equal access to a fair hearing, irrespective of language or culture; it is, after all, a fundamental human right.
Article Contributed By: © Lingo24