Ensuring quality in legal translation by 3 parties – governments, courts and translators Michał Hara Ministry of Justice Poland Background - the European level • European Union: 28 Member States, over 500,000,000 people and 24 official languages. • Member States require tools to communicate with persons who do not speak the language of proceedings – hence the need for translators. • Directive 2010/64/EU on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings – Articles 2(8), 3(9) and 5. The 3 perspectives • ‚Governments’ – meaning the entirety of a State’s governing bodies, including the legislative and any state-dependent bodies that can affect the law-making process. • ‚Courts’ – meaning courts themselves and any other bodies whose task is to conduct or oversee any part of criminal proceedings, including the Police and Public Prosecutors. • ‚Translators’. 1. Governments • Legal framework for providing translation in criminal proceedings. • Regulated profession. • Rights and obligations of translators. • Translation rates. Regulated profession Pro • Ability to control the qualifications of persons providing translation. • Easier enforcement of obligations (disciplinary responsibility). • Strong self-governance possible. Regulated profession Pro • Ability to control the qualifications of persons providing translation. • Easier enforcement of obligations (disciplinary responsibility). • Strong self-governance possible. Con • Inability to quickly appoint a translator from a rare language. • Greater governmental control. Rights and obligations • Rights and obligations clearly defined in national law. • Right to review the case file. • Impartiality, i.e. translators should be prohibited from ‚taking sides’ in the proceedings. Rights and obligations, rates • Rights and obligations clearly defined in national law. • Right to review the case file. • Impartiality, i.e. translators should be prohibited from ‚taking sides’ in the proceedings. • Rates for translation should be as commercially attractive as is feasible for the state. • Too low rates will discourage highly qualified professionals. 2. Courts • Effective cooperation between court and translator can greatly contribute to the quality of the text. • Sufficient time for translation. • Specialisation. • Quality assessment. • Consistency. • ‚Essential documents’. Sufficient time • Various quality of court documents (e.g. photocopies, handwritten texts). • Different levels of complexity (witness statements, indictments, expert opinions, specialised datasheets). • Strict deadlines can be an enemy of good translation. Specialisation • Courts should be able to appoint specialists in criminal law and relevant vocabulary. • Registers of translator specialities – operated by: Courts? The state? Translator associations? Quality assessment • Quality assessment should not be handled by courts alone. • Often different translations can be equally valid. • Courts do require tools to intervene if they deem the quality of translation to be insufficient. • Appointment of a new translator. Consistency • Ideally a single case should be handled by a single translator. • Different reasons for change of translator: imperative obligations, illness, personal reasons, replacement by court. ‚Essential documents’ • Essential documents – examples listed in Article 3(2) of Directive 2010/64/EU • What other documents should be considered ‚essential’ is decided by the court. • Exercise flexibility – in different cases different documents may turn out to be ‚essential’. 3. Translators • • • • Language and law. Specialisation. Professional ethics (professional secrecy). Personal traits. Language and law • Expert knowledge of both native language and chosen language. • Good knowledge of criminal law, substantive and procedural, as well as law in general. • Useful to know the law of states using chosen language. • Professional development – self study, courses, training. Specialisation • Particular expertise in a given field of criminal law (e.g. medicrime, military crime, banking, money laundering, transport, etc.). • Specialisation can be particularly effectively implemented by translator firms and associations. • Specialisation does not mean complete exclusion of other fields. Professional ethics • Professional secrecy. • Secrecy required to safeguard procedural rights of persons involved in proceedings. Professional ethics, personal traits • Professional secrecy. • Secrecy required to safeguard procedural rights of persons involved in proceedings. • Documents in criminal cases can pertain to disturbing and unsettling events. • Court work can be stressful. Conclusions • The perspectives of the 3 parties, Governments, Courts and Translators, overlap and interweave. • All 3 parties must cooperate and listen to each other in order to guarantee high quality of translation in criminal proceedings. • None of the 3 parties can achieve it alone!