Monday, 27 June 2016

"Concerns about a lack of professionalism on the part of some interpreters hired by the Home Office from private companies" 
27 June 2016

page 5
Issues around Interpretation
Evidence also points to lack of sensitivity shown to the specific needs of applicants and concerns about a lack of professionalism on the part of some interpreters hired by the Home Office from private companies.

In an interview with the APPG in May 2016, Mr Hamid Delrouz, an Iranian Christian convert, stated that his asylum rejections by the Home Office were helped by the fact that, in court, his interpreter was not familiar with Biblical terms including ‘Book of Psalms’ and ‘Jeremiah’ which were translated incorrectly.

In further evidence submitted to the inquiry team in May 2016, AMA UK highlights the case of one Ahmadi man who, in his interview, felt that he had to start answering the interviewer’s questions in his broken English and not use his Urdu-speaking interpreter, making the interpreter angry, because some of the concepts he was conveying in Urdu were not being translated properly or were being missed out. The Ahmadi applicant felt that this was affecting his asylum case and was concerned that either the interpreter did not have knowledge of Ahmadis’ beliefs or did not personally agree with them. In this individual’s First Tier Tribunal case, when he said to the judge that he wanted to explain his position properly when he felt the interpreter was failing to do so, he was told by the judge not to speak in English and only in Urdu through the interpreter.

page 7
In light of the findings of this report, members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group make the following recommendations to the Home Secretary:

5. Ensure that the case workers and interpreters used by the Home Office and decision makers uphold the same standards of professional conduct expected from Home Office staff. All such individuals should be trained to have adequate knowledge of different forms of religious persecution and the right to freedom of religion or belief, the specific religious terminology of different religious groups as well as the cultural contexts of applicants, especially if the applicant identifies as a member of a religious group perceived as ‘heretical’ by others adhering to the same religion. This depth of knowledge is needed so that the religious and cultural contextual meaning of the asylum applicants’ words can be understood and clearly conveyed. In particular, it must be ensured that the case worker/interpreter’s own cultural context does not give rise to bias in their work.

8. Ensure that the asylum procedures are sensitive to the applicants’ experiences, backgrounds and well-being. Also ensure that applicants are not caused unnecessary distress and feel able to speak freely, especially in cases where the case worker/interpreter is a member of the religious community that has carried out the applicant’s persecution. In such cases, applicants should be re-assigned to a different interpreter (and/or case worker) with whom they feel comfortable in speaking freely.

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Interpreters arranged by the Home Office via private companies provide interpretation/translation for asylum interviews. Though not employed by the Home Office, the Home Office expect and assumes an efficient level of language skill and professionalism from interpreters sent. Home Office policy governs this expectation.
According to UK policy, interviewers are required to ‘check with interpreters before the start of the interview that the interpreter has an understanding of the religious terminology and that questions prepared can be interpreted accurately. However, during the hearings, the APPG and the AAG have heard first hand testimonies of interpreters failing both on their language competency and professional conduct, thereby having a detrimental impact on the process.

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