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Italy: Right to Interpretation and Translation in Criminal Proceedings

(July 29, 2016) On July 29, 2016, new legislation on the right to interpretation and translation services in criminal proceedings entered into effect in Italy. (Legislative Decree No. 129 of June 23, 2016, Implementing EU Directive 2010/64/UE on the Right to Interpretation and Translation in Criminal Procedures, GAZETTA UFFICIALE, No. 163 (July 14, 2016), NORMATTIVA (in Italian).) The new legislation seeks to facilitate the provision of these services, free of charge, to parties involved in criminal cases. For instance, when an interpreter or translator resides outside the territorial jurisdiction in which a proceeding is being conducted, the judge will facilitate the court appearance of the interpreter or translator. (Id. art. 1(1).)

The law also provides that, when needed, the accused has the right to the assistance of an interpreter for conferences with defense counsel. (Id. art. 2(1)(a)(1).) This right also applies where the nature of the criminal proceedings requires multiple conferences between the accused and his or her counsel. (Id. art. 2(1)(a)(1).)

In addition, when it is not possible to promptly obtain a written translation of relevant procedural acts, the presiding judge may order that oral translation or interpretation, even in summary form, be performed simultaneously with the preparation of the written minutes. (Id. art. 2(1)(a)(2).) The accused may waive the right to such a written translation when he or she is aware of the consequences of the waiver after consulting with defense counsel. (Id. art. 2(1)(a)(3).) A recording of the translation or interpretation must be made, however, regardless of the circumstances. (Id. art. 2(1)(a)(4).) The judge may also authorize the use of communications technology to provide the interpretation or translation. (Id. art. 2(1)(a)(5).)

According to the new law, each tribunal in the country must send an updated list of its authorized interpreters and translators to the Ministry of Justice, so that the Ministry may prepare a national list that may be searched by judges, lawyers, and the police throughout the country. (Id. art. 2(2)(1)&(2).)

Finally, the law provides that the implementation of law’s provisions may not generate new or increased burdens on public finances. (Id. art. 3(1).)