Assessment of Videoconference Interpreting in the Criminal Justice Service

EU Criminal Justice Programme, Project JLS/2008/JPEN/037, 2008-2011

AVIDICUS is an EU-funded project that explores the use of videoconference interpreting in criminal proceedings. The use of videoconferences (VC) in criminal proceedings, especially for hearing witnesses or experts, has been allowed under EU legislation since 2000 (Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between EU countries, Art. 10). A 2008 survey by the European working group on e-Justice shows that VCs are now widely used in criminal proceedings to speed up cross-border cooperation, reduce costs and increase security.

The emerging settings include VCs with witnesses, experts or suspects abroad but also between courts or police stations and prisons. These settings are often multilingual, necessitating the integration of interpreters into the videoconference situation (‘videoconference interpreting’ – VCI).

Additionally videoconference technology offers a potential solution for current problems with the provision of qualified legal interpreters, especially for minority languages. Thus, ‘remote interpreting’ (RI) via a videoconference link using interpreters at distant locations, possibly abroad, is gaining momentum in criminal proceedings.

In June 2007, the European Council confirmed that the use of videoconference technology is one of the priorities for future work in European e-Justice, in particular in the areas of evidence taking and interpreting.

While these developments are changing the practice of legal interpreting, virtually nothing is known about the viability and quality of VCI/RI, and training for legal practitioners and interpreters on VCI/RI is almost non-existent.

The AVIDICUS project addresses the issue of viability and quality and the need for training in this context. The project aims to investigate the viability and quality of VCI/RI in criminal proceedings and to use the findings of this study to develop VCI/RI training modules for legal practitioners and interpreters.

The final results have been presented during an international symposium on Videoconference and Remote Interpreting in Legal Proceedings in London on 17-19 February 2011.

Click here for the digital publication entitled Videoconference and Remote Interpreting in Criminal Proceedings, containing papers presented at the Project Symposium in February 2011, together with the findings and recommendations of the AVIDICUS Project.

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