Harward v Norway, UN Human Rights Committee (1991) (excerpts)

Harward v Norway, UN Human Rights Committee Communication 451/1991 (excerpts)


9.5 In the opinion of the Committee, it is important for the guarantee of fair trial that the defence has the opportunity to familiarize itself with the documentary evidence against an accused. However, this does not entail that an accused who does not understand the language used in court, has the right to be furnished with translations of all relevant documents in a criminal investigation, provided that the relevant documents are made available to his counsel. The Committee notes that Mr. Harward was represented by a Norwegian lawyer of his choice, who had access to the entire file, and that the lawyer had the assistance of an interpreter in his meetings with Mr. Harward. Defence counsel therefore had opportunity to familiarize himself with the file and, if he thought it necessary, to read out Norwegian documents to Mr. Harward during their meetings, so that Mr. Harward could take note of its contents through interpretation. If counsel would have deemed the time available to prepare the defence (just over six weeks) inadequate to familiarize himself with the entire file, he could have requested a postponement of the trial, which he did not do. The Committee concludes that, in the particular circumstances of the case, Mr. Harward's right to a fair trial, more specifically his right to have adequate facilities to prepare his defence, was not violated.