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From the Brussels Office

17 August 09

Updates on interpretation and translation for suspects; and transfer of criminal proceedings

Interpretation and translation for suspects

On 8 July the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Framework Decision to set common minimum standards as regards the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings throughout the EU. The proposal aims to ensure that suspects are entitled to interpretation at all stages of the procedure, from when they are informed that they are a suspect until the proceedings are over, including any appeal. They would also be entitled to have any essential documents in the proceedings translated in order that they can fully understand the case against them. This is the first proposal to be made under the Swedish Presidency’s roadmap of 1 July, which adopted a step-by-step approach to procedural rights and included prospective proposals on a letter of rights for the accused and the right to receive legal aid, among other measures.

Transfer of criminal proceedings

Sixteen member states have proposed legislation to establish common rules to facilitate the transfer of criminal proceedings between EU member states. A member state would be able to request transfer of proceedings if it would “improve the efficient and proper administration of justice” and if at least one of a number of criteria is met, such as where the suspect or the victim is ordinarily resident. The Law Society of England & Wales emphasises the importance of safeguards for suspects and defendants in any such transfer proceeding. The European Parliament will examine this proposal in the autumn.

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