Apart from having right to engage a lawyer of choice, an arrested person also has right to a free interpreter in police stations and other detention centres. An arrested person must not understand or speak English language rather it is the duty of police to provide a free interpreter for such arrested person. An arrested person is not to be charged for the services of an interpreter.
An interpreter is to record in English language and read the statement an arrested person to the understanding of such arrested person. Upon understanding the statement, the arrested person must sign and endorse the statement as having been made by the arrested person. Then, the interpreter must sign as the recorder of the statement, providing his name, address, occupation, designation and other particulars on the statement.
Recommendation: In practice, interpreters are often procured by police officers and some times, police officers play the role of interpreters. It will be tidier to statutorily provide that police procures Independent interpreters and that police officers should not be interpreter to ensure arrested persons are properly understood without fear of collusion. Furthermore, even where police procures interpreters, the law should allow arrested persons to be at liberty to engage independent interpreters.
My authorities are sections 17(3), 17(4), 17(5), 494 and 495 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and other similar laws across States in Nigeria.
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