May 2, 2012 - Minority Rights Group International (MRG)
Privatization of court interpreting hinders access to justice for non-English speakers in the UK
The UK Ministry of Justice’s decision to adopt a privatized contract for court interpreters has severe implications regarding access to justice for minorities from non-English speaking backgrounds. Shahendra Suliman, MRG’s Conflict Prevention Programme intern, reports.
A contract between the Ministry of Justice and a translation company to provide interpreters for all courts in England and Wales has angered interpreters and frustrated judges.
Whilst previously each individual court hired freelance interpreters from a national register of qualified interpreters, under the new scheme interpreters are provided by a single company, Applied Language Solutions (ALS). The contract, which has promised to cut the annual translation bill by a third, came into effect on 1st February and has already provoked countrywide protests and boycotts.
Not only does this new deal undermine interpreters by cutting their pay and removing travel expenses for the first hour, but it appears to have had widespread implications for the justice system, particularly for people who do not speak English as their first language.