Sunday, 28 June 2020

‘It wasn’t an interview – it was an interrogation’: How asylum seekers are made to feel ‘like criminals’ during Home Office questioning

28th June 2020

‘It wasn’t an interview – it was an interrogation’: How asylum seekers are made to feel ‘like criminals’ during Home Office questioning
[…] In other cases, asylum seekers spoke of male interpreters being allocated when a female interpreter had been requested, or allocation of an interpreter who spoke the incorrect dialect or poor English, making it more difficult for them to explain their account fully to the caseworker.
One woman, Sara, told the researchers: “I requested for a female interpreter and female caseworker, but both were male ... Since I had [a] male interpreter, I couldn’t concentrate on the interview. I was just thinking of the interpreter ... I told [the caseworker], ‘I can’t share everything.’ They said, ‘Okay, that’s fine.’”
Ahmad, from the Middle East, meanwhile describes having to explain being tortured for freedom of expression in his home country through an interpreter who he said couldn’t speak a high standard of English.
“Imagine trying to explain that there had been a massacre, and your translator having to search for the appropriate word on Google,” he says. “I can speak some English, and when I heard the interpreter translating my words wrong, I would try to speak for myself, but the interviewer kept on telling me to answer in Arabic for the translator.
“I tried to explain that I needed to speak for myself as the interpreter was not saying what I was saying, but I was silenced. Worse yet, between the agonising misinterpretations – they didn’t even get to the bottom of my story.”
Ahmad was initially refused asylum, but was granted on appeal. He has now completed a master’s and plans to become a pharmacist.
He adds: “My application was denied because of the issues with my interpreter. When I saw what the Home Office thought my story was, it was completely wrong. The interpreter had mistranslated my story into a different version of the truth.” […]

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

How video hearings broke justice and stripped people of their rights

24 June 2020

How video hearings broke justice and stripped people of their rights
[…] The problems caused during the pandemic can be exacerbated when cases involve a person suspected to have Covid-19. People have ‘appeared’ in court through the small window of a cell door. Their heads barely visible and voices barely intelligible thanks to the echoing hallway and poor connection as they’re far from the Wi-Fi router.
In one case a defendant with limited English who had coughed on an officer appeared through his cell window, English was his second language and he had no interpreter. The connection was poor and so was the audio. His solicitor in court couldn’t remind him of her advice. He chose a jury trial before saying: “I don’t understand this, that, crown court,” then asking for his solicitor, which the judge refused: “It’s not a matter for your solicitor, you elected to go to crown court.”
“It’s just not justice, it’s a farce,” says Gibbs, who observed that case from the public gallery in May. “What I’m worried about from a justice point of view is that defendants are not getting a fair hearing and that they’re not getting an option to appear in person.” […]

PQ: 24th June 2020

Personal Protective Equipment - Question
– in the House of Lords at 11:18 am on 24th June 2020.

Baroness Coussins Crossbench
My Lords, the Minister will not be surprised that I want to ask once again about interpreters in the NHS. I appreciate that because of Covid-19 many hospitals are using interpreters by telephone, but there must still be many cases where the physical presence of an interpreter is needed, Covid-related or otherwise. No answer has yet been given to my Written Question of 12 May about who is responsible for providing PPE for interpreters. I would also like to be reassured by the Minister, who I know appreciates the importance of interpreters, that they will not be forgotten when it comes to stockpiling PPE to cope with a possible second wave, when interpreters are likely to be needed more often if the disproportionate level of infection among certain minority groups continues.

Lord Bethell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The noble Baroness is entirely right to emphasise the disproportionate balance of infection among BAME people and the importance of interpreters in ensuring that they get the treatment they deserve. However, we are emphasising the use of telephone services because we want to keep people out of areas of potential infection. That remains part of the service that we deliver, and telephone arrangements are proving extremely effective. However, I take on board her point about providing PPE for those interpreters who are on site, and I will continue to press those in the department who oversee this important area of activity.