Vertalen in theorie en praktijk
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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At present, a foreign suspect in criminal cases is at the mercy of uncontrolled free forces for assistance from interpreters. He may get a "real" interpreter, an amateur, an "assistant inspector", or none at all. The quality as well as the frequency of interpreters' assistance in our administration of criminal justice remains arbitrary, and is at its best sympathetic. Dutch legislation in this area is completely inadequate and conflicts with the Treaty of Rome, leading to chaotic practices. It is a fact that no professional training is required, and it has occurred in more than one case, particularly in police headquarters, that the interpreter in question took sides. An interpreters' presence is required by law at court sessions only. As a consequence, police and legal officials repeatedly conduct examinations of suspects without the mediation of interpreters. Initiatives intended to put an end to this undesirable situation, among them one from the Netherlands Translators' Association, have come to nothing. The blame for this lies in part with the autonomous, uncooperative actions of the police and judicial officials, and with the misplaced toleration of these practices by the government. Moreover, interpreters themselves are not blameless: many take advantage of the fact that, literally and figuratively, they practice a free profession subject to few controls. Interpreters' assistance should be radically changed, both with respect to its planning and its content. There are three basic requirements:1. Professionalization: Interpreting in criminal cases should be a separate profession. Rules of conduct and professional rules, education in criminal law, together with interpreting and technical language specialization, are necessary for this.2. Intensification: Free assistance from interpreters in all those moments in criminal justice procedures which are of vital importance to the suspect is essential.3. Coordination and control: "Interpreters on-call" should be available at the Bureaus for Legal Assistance, with the assignment of professional interpreters to all criminal court cases. Along with this, an organ should be established which is charged with the responsibility for supervision and disciplinary jurisdiction.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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