The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private on
13 October 1986, the following members being present:

                    MM. C.A. NØRGAARD, President
                        J.A. FROWEIN
                        F. ERMACORA
                        E. BUSUTTIL
                        G. JÖRUNDSSON
                        G. TENEKIDES
                        S. TRECHSEL
                        B. KIERNAN
                        A.S. GÖZÜBÜYÜK
                        A. WEITZEL
                        J.C. SOYER
                        H.G. SCHERMERS
                        H. DANELIUS
                        G. BATLINER
                        J. CAMPINOS
                   Mrs  G.H. THUNE
                   Sir  Basil HALL
                    Mr. F. MARTINEZ

                    Mr. H.C. KRÜGER, Secretary to the Commission

Having regard to Art. 25 (art.25) of the Convention for the
Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

Having regard to the application introduced on 29 August 1985 by S.Y.
against the Federal Republic of Germany and registered on 3 October
1985 under file No. 11777/85;

Having regard to the report provided for in Rule 40 of the Rules of
Procedure of the Commission;

Having deliberated;

Decides as follows:


The applicant is a citizen of Sri Lanka of Tamil origin, born in 1953
and presently living in Gundelsheim.  He is represented by Mr
Wingerter and Partners, lawyers practising in Heilbronn.

It appears from his statements and the documents submitted by him that
the applicant came to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1979 and
requested political asylum.  He is, according to statements made by
him before the German police, working in a factory and earning about
DM 1,000 per month after taxes.  The proceedings concerning the
applicant's request for asylum are still pending and the applicant's
residence permit is provisionally limited to the district of
Heilbronn.  A violation of the obligation not to leave the district of
Heilbronn pending the asylum proceedings is punishable under the Act
on Asylum Proceedings (Asylverfahrensgesetz).

As the applicant was apprehended on two occasions, i.e. on 4 May 1984
and 3 June 1984, outside the borders of the district of Heilbronn, he
was summoned for an interrogation (Beschuldigtenvernehmung) by the
police.  This interrogation took place on 30 July 1984. According to
the protocol, signed by the applicant and a police officer, on this
interrogation, the applicant was informed about his rights and
declared himself willing to comment on the charge laid against him. He
stated that he knew a little German and did not, for the purpose of
the interrogation by the police, need an interpreter. He then
explained that he had left the district of Heilbronn on the two
occasions in question because friends of his living in other parts of
the Federal Republic needed his help and he had no time to obtain an
authorisation by the competent authority.

The police officer who interrogated the applicant noted at the end of
the protocol that the applicant's German was not fluent (gebrochen)
and the assistance of an interpreter was therefore advisable in case
of a court hearing.

On 11 September 1984 the Heilbronn District Court (Amtsgericht) issued
an order (Strafbefehl) against the applicant imposing a fine of eight
day rates of DM 20 each for having repeatedly violated his obligation
not to leave the district of Heilbronn.  The order contains a short
paragraph indicating the facts and names four witnesses, mostly police

The applicant raised objections (Einspruch) against the above order of
11 September 1984.

On 27 September 1984 his chosen defence counsel, Mr Hohbach, of
Wingerter and Partners, requested that he be appointed as the
applicant's official defence counsel.  He stated that, in view of his
personal and cultural background, the applicant could not defend
himself personally.  Counsel also requested that the applicant be
provided with a translation of:

- the legal provisions relevant in his case;

- a commentary on these provisions;

- the contents of the file.

The motion was rejected by the District Court on 16 January 1985.
This order was confirmed by the Heilbronn Regional Court (Landgericht)
on 4 February 1985.  The court stated that the matter was not at all
complicated.  It further pointed out that the applicant had been
living in the Federal Republic of Germany since 1980 and had found
employment.  Consequently the German legal system was not completely
unknown to him.  Furthermore he was able to comment on the charges
laid against him when he was interrogated by the police.  In these
circumstances it could be expected that he would be able to defend
himself personally and that the judge would take sufficient care of
the situation in order to make sure that the principle of a fair trial
was respected.

On 8 March 1985 the District Court rejected another motion of the
applicant's chosen defence counsel, Mr Hohbach, who had requested that
his client be provided with a translation of the order of
11 September 1984.  The court pointed out that the applicant had
declared to the police, when he was interrogated on 30 July 1984, that
he knew German sufficiently well and did not need the assistance of an
interpreter. This order was confirmed by the Regional Court on
25 March 1985.  The court stated that the question whether and which
documents had to be translated depended on the circumstances of each
particular case. While the applicant was not able to read German he
understood it well enough to be able to prepare his defence with his
chosen defence counsel.  It should be no problem for counsel to
explain to the applicant the contents of the order of
11 September 1984.

In a further decision of 29 April 1985 the Regional Court rejected
another appeal lodged by the applicant against the refusal to provide
translations of all decisions so far rendered in his case.

In the meanwhile, on 9 April 1985, the applicant had lodged a
constitutional appeal against the decision of 25 March 1985.  This
appeal was rejected on 22 April 1985 by a group of three judges of the
Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) as being

The applicant was summoned to appear for a hearing of his case on
7 May 1985.  The hearing, however, allegedly had to be adjourned
because the judge realised that the applicant needed an interpreter
who had not been invited to assist at the hearing of 7 May 1985.


The applicant complains that so far he has never been informed about
the charges raised against him in a language which he understands,
i.e. in Tamil.  He submits that he only has a very limited grasp of
the German language and cannot read German at all. His counsel also
raises doubts as to whether the applicant understood what had been
drawn up in the police protocol concerning the applicant's
interrogation of 30 July 1984.

Given his financial and personal situation as a foreigner he should
have been granted legal aid.  He should at least have been provided
with a translation of the order of 11 September 1984 as well as of all
subsequent decisions which determined the future proceedings
(verfahrensgestaltende Schriftstücke).  He argues that, regardless of
whether or not he will eventually be assisted by an interpreter at his
trial, the guarantees of Article 6 (art. 6) of the Convention are
already violated if in the course of the investigation proceedings he
is not already informed in his own language about the charge levelled
against him enabling him to prepare his defence adequately.  He points
out that according to No. 181 of the Administrative Regulations
concerning criminal and regulatory offence proceedings an order
imposing a fine has to be translated if it concerns a foreigner who
does not have a sufficient knowledge of the German language.

He invokes in particular Articles 5 para. 2 (art. 5-2), and 6 para. 1
(art. 6-1) and 3 (a) (art. 6-3-a) of the Convention.


The applicant has complained that in investigation proceedings
relating to the determination of a charge of his having violated
provisions of the Act on Asylum Proceedings (Asylverfahrensgesetz) he
has not yet been informed in a language which he understands and in
detail of the nature and cause of the accusation against him and of
the contents of other decisions given in these proceedings.  He also
complains that his request to be given free legal assistance was

The Commission notes that the applicant's constitutional appeal, which
was lodged on time, was rejected as being inadmissible as apparently
it was considered to be unsubstantiated and that the proceedings
complained of are still pending.

Even assuming, however, that domestic remedies have been exhausted as
required by Article 26 (art. 26) of the Convention, the Commission
first observes that Article 5 (art. 5) of the Convention protects
against arbitrary arrest and detention and is therefore not applicable
in the present case as the applicant was not deprived of his liberty
in the course of the proceedings in question.

As regards the applicant's complaints under Article 6 (art. 6) of the
Convention the Commission points out that the conformity of a trial
with the requirements of that provision must, in principle, be
assessed on the basis of the trial as a whole (No. 9000/80,
Dec. 11.3.82, D.R. 28, p. 127).  It is true that the application of
Article 6 (art. 6) cannot be excluded categorically and without
exception with regard to the pretrial stage of criminal proceedings
(Can v. Austria, Comm. Report 12.7.84, para. 49).  It is in fact a
fundamental part of the preparation of the defence that the accused is
informed about the nature and cause of the accusation against him
(Article 6 para. 3 (a) (art. 6-3-a)) and also that he is given free
legal assistance if he is indigent and if the interests of justice so
require (Article 6 para. 3 (c) (art. 6-3-c)).

However, as regards the right to information, it has to be noted that
on 30 July 1984 the applicant accepted to be interrogated by the
police.  On that occasion he was informed about the accusations
against him and commented on them.  According to the protocol drawn up
by the police on 30 July 1984 the applicant had been able to converse,
although in broken German, with the interrogating police officer.  The
applicant has not alleged that he did not understand at all what was
discussed on 30 July 1984 or that the record of his interrogation by
the police incorrectly reproduced the statement made by him in
relation to the accusations against him.  As was pointed out by the
German courts the applicant has been living and working in the Federal
Republic of Germany since 1980.  In these circumstances it cannot be
regarded as arbitrary that the German courts concluded from the
protocol on the applicant's interrogation on 30 July 1984, and also
from the fact that subsequent to the order of 11 September 1984 he
chose a counsel for his defence, that the applicant had been informed
about the accusation against him in an adequate and sufficient manner
enabling him to prepare his defence and to discuss the matter with his
counsel.  Apart from the order of 11 September 1984 there are no
decisions relevant for the determination of the charge against the
applicant necessitating translation in order to enable the applicant
to continue preparing his defence.

As regards the alleged right to be granted free legal assistance, the
Commission again agrees with the German courts that the matter is both
from the factual and legal point of view of such triviality that
despite the applicant's difficulties with the German language the
interests of justice did not require free legal assistance.

In fact at his interrogation of 30 July 1984 the applicant had already
explained why he travelled outside the district of Heilbronn and why
it had allegedly been impossible for him to obtain an authorisation to
do so.  He was also in a position to instruct his chosen defence
counsel.  It cannot in these circumstances be found that free legal
assistance was necessary in the proceedings in question.  It has
further to be noted in this context that according to the applicant's
submissions the trial court then decided that assistance by an
interpreter was necessary at the trial.  The applicant will thus have
the opportunity to defend his case in his own language.

An examination by the Commission of the applicant's complaint does not
therefore disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and
freedoms set out in the Convention and in particular in the above

It follows that the application is manifestly ill-founded within the
meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (art. 27-2) of the Convention.

For this reason, the Commission


Secretary to the Commission                President of the Commission

(H.C. KRÜGER)                              (C.A. NØRGAARD)