New controversy on the right to defense

New controversy on the right to defense

A bizarre legal arrangement called “right to defense in one’s mother tongue” is about to pass in Parliament in the name of “peace.” It is good to repeat this.

There cannot be anything more natural than local or foreign plaintiffs or defendants who do not speak the official language of a country (in Turkey, Turkish) to seek justice or defend themselves in courts through an interpreter. In our country, this has always been the system. Well, what does the new arrangement bring? This is new: As a former prosecutor said on TV: “Before, the interpreter was given to the defendant; now she or he will be given to the judges and the prosecutor.” This will reach a stage in which, in certain incidences, the language of the proceedings will be Kurdish.

Laws must be both in Turkish and in Kurdish

For a defendant to defend himself/herself adequately in Kurdish, the prosecutor has an obligation to prepare the indictment also in Kurdish. Otherwise, the defendant would not be able to understand thoroughly what he or she is being accused with, and also cannot defend himself or herself properly. For this, not only the prosecutor who will prepare the indictment but also the expert who will interpret for the judges has to have laws written in Kurdish in his or her hand. Legal phrases cannot be translated verbally in haste. If they are, then there will be colossal mistakes. This, in turn, would damage justice. Then, at that time, the question will pop up, “Which law written in which language should be considered valid?” As a matter of fact, in international contracts prepared in English and in Turkish, the clause “the English text shall prevail” or “the Turkish version shall prevail” is included. Otherwise, it is impossible to settle any matter.

A case between two people with different mother tongues

While the language of the court is Turkish, the mother tongues of the plaintiffs and the defendants may be different. In this case, it would be very difficult for the court to proceed with the trial in a healthy way. Sometimes, the testimonies would have to be interpreted twice; hence possible semantic shifts will make it get out of hand.

In a country, there may be many languages spoken but only one official language. The public domain where the official language must absolutely be one is that of justice. If a country has more than one official language, then that country actually is a federation made up of more than one country. Don’t be fooled by the people who act as if they do not actually know what “defense in one’s mother tongue” means. The topic has started being debated, everything speaks for itself. However, individuals continue to look up in the air, repeating, “What is this?” Well, this is the art of politics that makes a person who has blood in his mouth say, “I just drank a red sherbet and this redness is because of it.”

For one solution, my God, how many issues are created?

Ege Cansen is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Jan. 30. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.