No bilingual juries in Wales

Saturday 13 March 2010 at 6:52 am | In News | 1 Comment
Welsh dragon
The government has decided against selecting bilingual juries in certain cases on the basis it would outweigh the principle of random selection.

The decision follows a consultation looking at, for example, trials where large amounts of evidence are in Welsh.

It has been met with dismay by politicians who believed it could play a part in an increase in bilingualism in Wales.

Justice Minister Claire Ward said: “This decision comes down to a choice between two good and desirable things – the principle of random selection in the jury system and greater use of the Welsh language in court.

“Being tried for a serious offence by one’s fellow citizens is an important right and juries should be randomly selected from the whole community.

Participants in criminal and civil trials in Wales have the right to use the Welsh language in court and the government pays for interpreters to support this right.

The 1993 Welsh Language Act makes clear reference to Welsh and English having equal treatment when administrating justice in Wales.

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  1. In Ontario, where 5% of the population is francophone, a criminal defendant can choose to be tried in French rather than English. The jury is selected among citizens who can understand French. If a person is tried in English, then the jurors are chosen to have a sufficient understanding of English. There really is no way around language qualifications if the principle of equality is to be upheld.

    Comment by ihall — Wednesday 17 March 2010 2:41 pm #

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