New E-Justice Conference Center Opens Feb 2016
The Courts of Justice in Thailand provide interpreters of English and other languages such as Chinese, Turkish, Persian, Burmese, French, Russian, Lao, Vietnamese, Arabic, Tagalog, German, Turkish, Spanish and Italian including other local tribal languages and sign language for victims, accused and witnesses in criminal cases who are native speakers of these languages and cannot communicate in Thai or through spoken language. This is in accordance with Article 13 of the Criminal Procedures Code. Court interpreters are professionals who have been trained specifically for legal interpretation and are monitored by the International Affairs Division for accuracy and quality of service. Even though there is still a shortage of court interpreters, the attention given to clear and convenient communication by the Courts of Justice is a positive step towards equity in accessing the judicial system.
The latest innovation for court interpretation is the “E-Justice Conference Center”, located on the 6th floor of the Criminal Court on Ratchada road in Bangkok. The opening ceremony took place on 24 February 2016 and was presided over by Supreme Court President Veerapol Tangsuwan. The intention of the center is to boost public access to judicial procedures as well as save time and money for those attending hearings in criminal cases. Witnesses in the provinces will be able to give testimony in local courthouses, which will be relayed by video link to courts in Bangkok via the center.
Interpretation will be provided into foreign languages, local languages as well as sign language through a video-conference system. This also helps witnesses to feel more at ease, as they could be overwhelmed by a larger court in Bangkok, not to mention the stress of traveling to and staying in an unfamiliar city. Giving testimony through video link can provide additional protection against witness intimidation, a serious problem for witnesses in sensitive or violent crimes.
According to court officials, the video conference method may be applied to overseas witnesses as well as witness in the provinces, depending on the type of case. Logistics such as time difference and system availability will also be a consideration in such situations. It is predictable that at first there might be some “hiccups” in the system, but the “E-Justice Conference Center” is definitely heading for a new era of convenience and safety in court testimony.