Adalah Demands Translators for Arabic-speakers in Courts

Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, has told Dan Arbel, Director of the Courts in Israel, that his recent order to judges to limit translation services available to Arabic speakers is illegal and damages the status of Arabic as an official language in Israel.

Adalah is demanding that Arbel issue a new directive, clarifying the rights of Arabic speakers to a translator at the expense of the state.

Arbel instructed the courts some 18 months ago that due to budget restraints, they should avoid having to bill the treasury for translation services. Adalah petitioned the High Court of Justice to annul the order and Arbel issued a new directive saying that a translator may be hired at the state's expense but "please ensure that the translators are only ordered when necessary and there is no other way to run the trial."

Adalah has learned that many judges, lawyers and Arabic-speakers appearing in court are not aware that a translator may be hired at the expense of the state.

In her letter to Arbel, attorney Gadeer Nicola lists examples of this lack of awareness in the courtroom and demands that translating services be offered by the courts' system, that all rules and regulations are clearly displayed and that the translation service be immediately available. She demands that judges also inform Arabic-speakers of their rights to a translator,. If Adalah's request is not met, they will go back to the High Court.