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 HumarĂ¡n
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.”