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Sunday, 5 December 2010

IAPTI: "Endorsement of the petition to the UK Ministry of Justice"

Endorsement of the petition to the UK Ministry of Justice
The International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI) has been informed by one of its members in the UK that the Ministry of Justice intends to outsource the provision of interpretation and translation services across the justice system in England and Wales.
We are aware that a new EU Directive on the rights to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings was adopted by the European Commission on 20th October 2010. This Directive states "Member States shall endeavour to establish a register or registers of independent translators and interpreters who are appropriately qualified. Once established, such register or registers shall, where appropriate, be made available to legal counsel and relevant authorities." (Article 5(2), Directive 2110/64/EU on of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Right to Interpretation and Translation in Criminal Proceedings. The UK already has such register (NRPSI) which is currently being reconstituted as an independent regulatory body.
The IAPTI firmly believes that outsourcing and allowing the profession to be regulated by agencies is contrary to the interests of justice and not in the best interest of the profession or those who need interpreting and translation services.
We are also aware that outsourcing in other countries has resulted in a marked worsening in the quality of interpreting services. Freedom of Information requests in the UK regions that have already outsourced show that agencies do not operate in the interest of justice and employ unqualified interpreters to increase their profits. This generates large profits for agencies at the expense of tax payers and interpreters. As a result of this many professionals in the UK are being forced out of the profession and are now seeking alternative employment. This, in turn, will result in shortages of suitably qualified interpreters in the future. It takes several years to become a qualified and competent interpreter and every effort should be made to prevent current qualified interpreters from leaving the profession.
The IAPTI aims to actively promote the ethical practice of translation and interpretation and safeguard the interests of translators and interpreters around the world. Therefore, the IAPTI supports the campaign for the protection of the title and regulation of the legal interpreting profession in the UK, and the fight against exploitation of the profession by agencies. We are against any outsourcing which may lead to exploitation of interpreters and support the fight for better working conditions for interpreters and translators.
Taking all the above into account, we have decided to support the petition below, written by the Professional Interpreters' Alliance (PIA), which will be sent to the UK Ministry of Justice.

Aurora Matilde Humarán
IAPTI - Board of Directors
December 4, 2010

"We, the undersigned, registrants of the National Register of Public Service Interpreters, petition the Ministry of Justice to preserve the National Agreement on Arrangements for the Use of Interpreters, Translators and Language Service Professionals in Investigations and Proceedings within the Criminal Justice System and make it a statutory requirement that every interpreter working in the criminal justice system be chosen from the NRPSI or the following registers: CIOL, ITI, APCI. We further petition the Ministry of Justice not to outsource the provision of interpreters within the criminal justice system to commercial intermediaries.
The petition expresses our concern that the MoJ's proposal to abolish the National Agreement will lead to breaches of Articles 5 and 6 of the ECHR, enacted by HRA 1998, and result in miscarriages of justice and cases being lost at the expense of the taxpayer. Our concerns are supported by data collated through Freedom of Information Requests over a period of several years. We further petition the Ministry of Justice to engage in a meaningful consultation with the interpreting profession and to carry out a full equality impact assessment, in compliance with Section 71 of the Race Relations Act 1976 (amended 2000) to establish the impact of the Ministry of Justice proposals on ethnic minorities, in particular the abolishment of the National Agreement, which was put in place following the 1993 report of the Runciman Commission, and the recommendations of Lord Justice Auld.
We understand the need to cut costs and make the service more cost effective and we petition the Ministry of Justice to enter into a discussion with us so that we can jointly reach a viable and sustainable solution."

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Lincoln Prison handbook's 'execution' error spotted

17 November 2010

Lincoln Prison handbook's 'execution' error spotted
A translation error at a UK prison labelled an exercise yard as an "execution yard" in the draft of an information booklet for Russian inmates.
An inspection report mentioned the faux pas at Lincoln Prison in a section on foreign prisoners.
The translation was spotted by a member of staff at the proof stage, the Ministry of Justice said.
The report said all translated material "should be verified."
'Not funny'
No other translation errors were noted in the report.
Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said: "This is an example where actually making sure prisoners have properly translated material is important.
"You could treat it as a bit of a joke unless you were that prisoner and you didn't understand how the British prison service worked and came from a country that still had execution yards. It wouldn't be a funny thing for him."
The report praised the prison for having a better range of translated information for the 82 foreign national prisoners, but said staff had raised concerns that some translations were not "entirely accurate".

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Directive 2010/64/EU

Directive 2010/64/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20th October 2010 on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings

Thursday, 7 October 2010

EU courts must offer interpreting and translation during proceedings

Oct 07 2010

EU courts must offer interpreting and translation during proceedings
The Council of the European Union has adopted rules that will make interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings compulsory, if these services are required.
An agreement has been reached with the European Parliament in first reading. Member states will now have to transpose the directive into national law. The directive is based on an initiative taken by 13 Member States (Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria, Portugal, Romania, Finland and Sweden).
The new directive will substantially enhance the rights for suspected and accused persons. According to the communiqué, under the terms of the directive "they will have the right to interpretation, meaning that a suspected or accused person who does not understand or speak the language of the criminal proceedings concerned will be provided without delay with interpretation during criminal proceedings before investigative and judicial authorities, including during police questioning, during all court hearings and during any necessary interim hearings".
Where necessary for the purpose of ensuring the fairness of the proceedings, interpretation will also be available for communication between the suspected or accused person and his legal counsel in direct connection with any questioning or hearing during the proceedings or with the lodging of an appeal or other procedural applications, such as for bail."

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Ministerial Statement - 15th September 2010

15 Sep 2010
Interpretation and Translation Services (Justice Sector)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Crispin Blunt): The Government are proposing to make changes to the provision of interpretation and translation services across the justice sector. We need to reduce waste and cut costs but we shall do so in a way that safeguards quality.
Articles 5 and 6 of the European convention on human rights and fundamental freedoms (ECHR) give the right to interpretation for those who are arrested and who face criminal court proceedings. In addition, we expect the European Union to adopt a directive in the autumn intended to ensure that the rights enshrined in the ECHR are implemented consistently across all member states.
Currently, the non-binding National Agreement on Arrangements for the Use of Interpreters, Translators and Language Service Professionals in Investigations and Proceedings within the Criminal Justice System sets out how criminal justice organisations are expected to source interpreters and translators in England and Wales. The National Agreement gives the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) as the first source for foreign language interpreters and translators and the Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People Directory (now called the National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD)) for British Sign Language and other language services for deaf and deafblind people. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 codes of practice C and H also require that whenever possible the police should use interpreters from these registers when interviewing suspects.
Members of staff in justice organisations identify interpreters using the registers and then contact them directly. Once the assignment is complete, invoices are processed individually. This is an inefficient, labour-intensive process.
The Ministry of Justice is engaging with the market to explore how interpretation and translation can be delivered more efficiently. The exercise is a "competitive dialogue", which allows us to explore with potential providers the best way for them to meet our requirements. Although we are not able to be certain what the result of this exercise will be, we are anticipating a "framework agreement" with a number of preferred suppliers. This will set out a template or "call-off" contract. Justice organisations will then easily be able to use the "call-off" contract to meet their specific requirements. The quality of interpretation will be ensured through the terms of the contracts.
At this stage, we expect most police forces, Her Majesty's Courts Service, the Tribunal Service, the National Offender Management Service and the Crown Prosecution Service to use the framework. We expect the framework agreement to be signed in early 2011.
A move to contracts will eventually render the National Agreement redundant and we expect to withdraw it in due course. We aim however to retain elements of the agreement as good practice guidance and many of its fundamental principles will form the basis of the agreements with suppliers.
Potential suppliers were invited to lodge an expression of interest in a letter issued on 10 August. A notice was issued in the Official Journal of the European Union on 23 August. The procurement "pre-qualification questionnaire" was made available on 24 August. The deadline for return of the questionnaire was 13 September. The competitive dialogue process with short-listed tenderers will start in October.
The Government are clear that there is scope for greater efficiency in this area of their business and it is important that savings are made. But in taking this work forward it will ensure that the quality of interpretation and translation in police stations, in the courts and elsewhere is maintained.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Ireland: No quality controls laid down for courts and Garda translators

06 Jun 2010

No quality controls laid down for courts and Garda translators
When Adar Odon travelled from Mongolia to Ireland, he wasn’t yet 18. His plan was to study English at the Dublin School of English for six months and then return to his home country to take up a place in university. Those plans changed dramatically when he was accused of a sexual assault. He spent the next year in Cloverhill Prison awaiting trial. When the case eventually came to court, serious flaws emerged in how gardaí had handled the case. The most serious error though was that an interpreter had not translated any of Odon’s rights when they were read out by a garda.
“I still don’t know what he said,” he told The Irish Times following the case. “I just spoke in my own language.”
The judge in the case directed the jury to find him not guilty on the basis that his detention was illegal. The non-translation of his rights meant there was no opportunity to test the evidence brought forward against him.
That case in 2003 prompted a review of interpreting standards both in Garda stations and in other parts of the justice system – but has anything really changed?
Not much, according to professional interpreters and others involved in the legal system. Most interpreters and translators working for the courts and the Garda have no qualification in interpreting.
There are no written regulations or legislation governing the industry, nor are there any accreditations, standards, or qualifications. In other countries, such as Britain and Sweden, there are clearly defined guidelines and minimum standards in place.
In Ireland, however, it is possible that anyone who can speak two languages can call themselves an “interpreter” or a “translator”, as there is no official accreditation or standards or written guidelines relating to the industry itself.
In practice there is no monitoring of quality or testing of standards, no requirement for documentation of competence or proficiency; there is a lack of guidelines and no national register.
The Irish Translators and Interpreters Association has long-standing concerns.
“Court interpreters are interviewed but not tested to establish if they can interpret accurately,” says Mary Phelan, the association’s spokeswoman.
“They attend a one-day training course which is totally insufficient. Most interpreters who work in Garda stations have received no training. We have no doubt that some interpreters are very competent, but we are also quite sure that many are not up to the difficult task of interpreting.”
The fact that a person speaks English well does not mean that they have the in-depth knowledge of two languages that is needed to interpret competently, the association maintains. The consequences for potential miscarriages of justice are obvious.
“Incompetent interpreting could mean that a witness statement is incorrect. It could mean that a defendant does not understand the evidence against him or her in court,” Phelan adds.
“We find it hard to understand how the State can spend millions of euros a year on interpreting without any auditing of contracts or quality control.”
Kate Waterhouse is a PhD candidate at the school of social work and social policy in Trinity College Dublin. She is finalising her research on access to justice among people with limited or no English. As part of her research, she spent eight months at district courts in Dublin and outside the capital examining how interpreters worked in hundreds of individual court cases. What she saw, she says, was shocking.
Among her observations were that interpreters were not interpreting crucial information to defendants, such as the facts of the case or the bail conditions; the standard of English among some interpreters was poor, with some who did not have the English for basic legal terms like “solicitor” or “sentence”.
“There is room for potential disaster,” Waterhouse says. “In a huge number of cases the facts weren’t interpreted – what a person was charged with, if there were aggravating circumstances. These are very important details that a defendant should be able to understand and challenge if necessary.”
The Courts Service says that on the vast majority of occasions where an interpreter is used, there is no issue or concern over standards. “Where an issue of a lack of clarity or understanding arises, the dynamic of the court setting makes this apparent,” a Courts Service spokesman says.
“On these rare occasions, the interpreter is replaced.”
It says concerns over quality were raised in just 15 out of 10,000 cases in court last year.
It has signed a contract with the biggest interpreting firm in the State, Lionbridge, worth about €3 million a year. The contract sets out four different qualification levels as the “goal for interpreters” – but most of the emphasis is on language competency rather than competency in interpreting.
The quality of interpreting from Lionbridge has been queried by judges a number of times. In addition, a number of freelance interpreters used by the firm, who spoke on condition of anonymity, say they have never been tested for their proficiency.
In a statement, Lionbridge said it was proud of the high levels of quality if provided. It has “a stringent recruitment and qualification process”. It says it has an extensive quality assurance programme and its clients include US and EU governments.
There are also concerns over interpreting services used by the Garda. It uses a number of interpreting firms, as well as individual freelance interpreters.
Tom O’Sullivan, a detective attached to Interpol, is a member of the Garda Representative Association. He says interpreters are not vetted and there is no system to check basic accreditation and language proficiency.
At a recent GRA conference, he gave the example of a Chinese interpreter hired to help interview a suspect. It later turned out the interpreter himself was an illegal immigrant.
“Any foreign national with a mobile phone and a notepad who speaks reasonable English can operate as an interpreter in a completely unregulated environment,” he told the conference.
The supply of qualified professionals is also a problem. There is just one university course in Ireland which provides specific qualifications for interpreting. Pay can also be poor.
Following a Courts Service request for a reduction in fees, the take-home pay for most interpreters has fallen from €25 to €18 an hour. This makes interpreters in Ireland some of the lowest paid in Europe, says the Mary Phelan.
Internationally, research shows that best practice for interpreting includes minimal requirements in order to have a coherent, high quality service for governments.
In Britain, they have a register of public service interpreters – the national register of public service interpreters – who are fully tested for professional competence and must provide proof of security clearance.
The State body which used to advise the Government on intercultural issues – the NCCRI – recommended establishing a register of accredited interpreters on which public service providers could rely. The report was never adopted. The NCCRI has since been closed down by the Government.
The situation, say those with concerns over standards, will never improve unless plans are drawn up to monitor standards and provide proper training. Otherwise, the rich potential for error, breach of fair procedures and miscarriage of justice will remain.