Guesdon v France, UN Human Rights Committee (1986) (excerpts)

Guesdon v France, UN Human Rights Committee Communication 219/1986 (excerpts)


10.2 The Committee has noted the author's claim that the notion of a "fair trial", within the meaning of article 14 of the Covenant, implies that the accused be allowed, in criminal proceedings, to express himself in the language in which he normally expresses himself, and that the denial of an interpreter for himself and his witnesses constitutes a violation of article 14, paragraphs 3(e)and (f). The Committee observes, as it has done on a previous occasion 3/, that article 14 is concerned with procedural equality; it enshrines, inter alia, the principle of equality of arms in criminal proceedings. The provision for the use of one official court language by States parties to the Covenant does not, in the Committee's opinion, violate article 14. Nor does the requirement of a fair hearing mandate States parties to make available to a citizen whose mother tongue differs from the official court language, the services of an interpreter, if this citizen is capable of expressing himself adequately in the official language. Only if the accused or the defence witnesses have difficulties in understanding, or in expressing themselves in the court language, must the services of an interpreter be made available.