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Guest Post: EULITA and the importance of the Right to Interpretation and Translation Directive

editor - September 25, 2015 - European Commission, European Parliament, LEAP, legal experts advisory panel, roadmap directives, stockholm sunset

eulita
The Right to Interpretation and Translation Directive is a key part of our EU Defence Rights campaign (see Roadmap Rights) which we have been pushing to implement across Europe, to guarantee fair trial standards. EULITA president and LEAP member, Liese Katschinka, writes about the birth of EULITA and the importance of the new Directive.
EULITA is the European Legal Interpreters and Translators Association. It was founded in 2009, which was just in time for the negotiations and ultimately the adoption of Directive 2010/64 on the Right to Interpretation and Translation in Criminal Proceedings. 31 professional associations of legal interpreters and translators in 20 EU Member States have joined EULITA as full members, and 33 universities and European and/or international organisations, as well as 21 individual persons in the EU and beyond, have become associate members. EULITA promotes legal interpretation and translation by staging conferences on relevant issues, by participating in EU projects under the EU’s Justice Programme, and by maintaining ongoing relations with other European associations representing judicial stakeholders. EULITA’s involvement in EU projects has shown that lawyers, judges, prosecutors and police officers need additional guidance to better understand the role and work of legal interpreters and translators to achieve effective communication with foreign clients.
EULITA has liaison status with ISO, the International Organization for Standardization. Over the years EULITA has followed the development of different international standards in the field of interpreting and translation with great interest. Realising that international standards can serve as a benchmark, EULITA decided to propose a new work item to the ISO in June 2014, namely to work towards an international standard on legal interpreting. The responsible ISO committee, ISO TC 37 / SC 5 “Translation, Interpreting and Related Technology”, accepted the proposal in November 2014 and assigned it to Working Group 2: Interpreting. Within a timeframe of 48 months EULITA, which acts as the project coordinator, will now develop ISO/AWI 20228 “Guidelines for Legal Interpreting” into an international standard, in cooperation with experts on national ISO mirror committees throughout the world.
According to ISO, “a standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.” An international standard on legal interpreting can therefore provide a reference source whenever language services in judicial settings need to be set up or overhauled in EU member states. On account of the fact that there are major differences in language service regimes, both in EU member states and on a global level, the ISO standard on legal interpreting services will be a useful instrument for legal interpreters to further develop and harmonise their qualifications, as well as for national and/or regional authorities in charge of establishing a national regime for the provision of interpreting services in judicial settings.
A standard is a common denominator of different opinions expressed by experts in the field. It is therefore the legal interpreters and translators themselves who define the services they provide. Since a standard is a voluntary effort by the stakeholders concerned, it can serve as a reference document for producers of products and providers of services, AND users of products/services. A standard is not an equivalent to legislation, and can be considered as work in progress, as it is revised periodically. However, countries that need to implement Directive 2010/64, or wish to improve their language services regime for judicial settings by adopting national laws, will be able to use the standard when establishing the qualifications and procedures for legal interpreters and translators for their national or regional justice systems.
EULITA member associations voted in favour of engaging in a standardisation project, as it will define legal interpretation and the settings in which it is used, as well as establishing criteria applicable to service providers and end users of legal interpreting services. This will help judicial stakeholders throughout the EU to better understand the role and work of legal interpreters and thus support implementation of Directive 2010/64 EU on legal interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings.
An ISO standard will also create an international yardstick for interpreting services in contexts related to the law. After all, legal interpreting is becoming increasingly important, not only in the EU but throughout the world. Efficient and effective interpreting services also contribute towards achieving cost savings, and, most importantly, avoiding miscarriages of justice.

This is a guest post written by Liese Katschinka and may not reflect the views of Fair Trials. Liese Katschinka is President of EULITA and a LEAP member. She works as a freelance interpreter and translator in Vienna.

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