The UK dilemma over interpreting services for the justice sector continues

In a recent Skype conference EULITA’s Executive Committee decided to send a letter to the Lord Chancellor and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Justice in which it expressed its concern over the current situation in the UK.

It referred to the fact that the United Kingdom has been renowned for its tradition of fair trials and respect of human rights throughout the world for a long time. It pointed out that the right of non-native speakers to understand and be understood in court is a most essential component of a fair trial and that the UK’s National Register, based on the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting, has been a model for many countries. The Executive Committee therefore thought that it was all the more regrettable that at a time, when the EU Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings is being implemented, the language services that are currently being provided to the justice sector in the UK appear to be seriously flawed. As reports indicate there are procedural delays, there are situations where persons have to be released or – on the contrary – kept in custody, due to inadequate or unavailable interpreting services. Reports also indicate that defendants, victims and witnesses, on the one hand, and judges, lawyers and police officers, on the other hand, will not be able to resort to the services of qualified and experienced interpreters in the near future, as the qualified and experienced interpreters who have worked for the justice sector for many years, are refusing to work under unacceptable working conditions and, in consequence, are forced to leave the profession.

In the view of the Executive Committee of EULITA the situation in the UK has reached a deadlock where consultations with the representatives of the profession in the United Kingdom might offer a basis on which to find a way to overcome the impasse.

The Executive Committee hopes that in the course of implementing the EU Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings official action will be directed towards reasonable transposition arrangements which will withstand any challenges under Article 8 of EU Directive 2010/64/EU.

Liese Katschinka, President
on behalf of the
Executive Committee of EULITA