Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Interpreters in the Criminal Justice System.

Since the passing of the Criminal Code in our state there has been a right to an interpreter where a jury is satisfied the accused cannot understand the proceedings. This is all very well and good so long as it actually happens. Upon being told that many accused indigenous people who speak creole or pigeon English are not assisted in such a manner and worse yet their advocates are not invoking their right to such assistance floors me. The discussion then came to how we go about effecting change in the system. One suggestion is that until such skills have a cash value attached to them nobody would take an elective in the area while studying.

I would like to believe this is not true, however I can only think of two people who might be an exception to this rule.

The university really flogs the ‘indigenous justice’ horse, we get it on an academic level but only in a superficial way. The fact that many indigenous people are being incarcerated due to cultural linguistic differences that very people are aware of and even less actually care about is frankly disturbing. We spend so much time examining what is wrong with the system to result in overrepresentation and have very few answers that can immediacy affect change. Enforcing these rules, or creating some incentive (it appears delivery of justice is not incentive enough) to advocate the rights of these accused in this way may be one step towards change in our system.

1 comment:

  1. There are many problems here that aren't easy to resolve. As Justice Dean Mildren of the NT Supreme Court wrote, "In practice, the problem is not so much whether an interpreter will be permitted, but whether one will be able to be provided, and if so, at whose cost." So it seems its often not the advocate's/court's faul that this is happening, it's just because there is lack of supply or competence out there. Advocates not doing anything, however, sounds like plain negligence to me. :(