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Several countries strengthened their quality assessment mechanisms throughout 2020 to raise the standards for and quality of interpretation services. In Finland, the Tulppaani project developed a quality control model for interpretation during asylum interviews, using peer-to-peer review, random checks900 and new guidelines for interpreters.901 

Similarly, the “Project Bridge” launched by UNHCR to support authorities in Austria seeks to improve the quality of interpretation in the asylum procedure by developing comprehensive and multi-level training and continued education for interpreters.902 In addition, the Austrian Government Programme 2020-2024 includes training, monitoring and quality improvement for interpretation services, and the Quada project, developed with UNHCR, provides asylum-specific training to interpreters. 

In Croatia, the AMIF-funded project, ‘Translation and expansion of the network of translators in the process of granting international protection’, was implemented to better integrate beneficiaries of international protection.

In Germany, the training programmes for interviewers and other employees using interpretation services were extended and new quality control procedures were introduced. In Belgium, targeted training was provided to voluntary interpreters within the framework of a project funded by Fedasil and implemented by the social translation agency of the ASBL Brussel Onthaal and the Brussels Institute for Applied Linguistics (BIAL) of the University of Brussels (VUB).903 

A new legal position was issued in Sweden for the assessment of interpreters needed for interviews, reception and any other asylum procedure. The requirements were clearly laid out in order to procure a number of new contracts with different interpretation agencies.904 Similarly, the National Commission for Asylum in Italy is considering adding new criteria into public tenders to ensure that interpreters have a suitable level of comprehension of the Italian language. This issue was also reported in Slovenia, where interpreters are not required to prove their level of knowledge of the Slovenian language or the language into which they interpret.905 The Slovenian Directorate for Migration of the Ministry of the Interior added that for some languages it would be difficult to require a certified document proving a certain level of knowledge.

The State Agency for Refugees and UNHCR reported a continued lack of qualified interpreters in Bulgaria,906 and the ECtHR mentioned a shortage of interpreters of certain languages in the country. Civil society organisations in Malta highlighted a lack of interpretation services in the second instance determination procedure.907 Similar deviances were observed in Bulgaria.908  

In Portugal, the quality of interpretation remained a challenge due to a lack of training of service providers, who are often individuals with sufficient command of a language. The Portuguese Refugee Council observed that it was difficult to secure interpreters for certain languages (Bambara, Bengali, Kurdish, Lingala, Mandinka, Nepalese, Pashto, Tamil, Tigrinya, Sinhalese, and to a lesser extent Arabic and Farsi).909 Similar issues were reported in Hungary for Arabic, Eritrean dialects and Sorani910 and in Slovenia, where the shortcomings can affect the application’s credibility assessment.911  

The Advisory Group on the Provision of Support including Accommodation to Persons in the International Protection Process examined issues regarding the provision of interpretation during accommodation in the International Protection Process in Ireland and recommended to adopt a code of conduct and introduce an accreditation test for interpreters from mid-2023.912 





[900] Finnish Immigration Service | Maahanmuuttovirasto. (2020, November 19). Maahanmuuttovirasto kehittää turvapaikkapuhuttelujen tulkkauksen laatua [The Finnish Immigration Service works to improve the quality of interpretation in asylum interviews].
[901] Finnish Immigration Service | Maahanmuuttovirasto (2020). Opas tulkeille [Guide for interpreters].
[902] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2020). Projekt Bridge [Project Bridge].
[903] Federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers | L’Agence fédérale pour l’accueil des demandeurs d’asile | Federaal agentschap voor de opvang van asielzoekers. (2018, September 30). Translation and interpretation day.
[904] Swedish Migration Agency | Migrationsverket. (2020, April 24). Rättsligt ställningstagande. Lämplighetsprövning av tolkar och översättare i Migrationsverkets ärenden - SR 18/2020 [Legal position. Assessment of the suitability of interpreters and translators in the Swedish Migration Board’s cases — SR 18/2020].
[905] AIDA Slovenia. (2021). Country Report: Slovenia - 2020 Update. Edited by ECRE. Written by Legal-Informational Centre for NGOs (PIC).
[906] European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. (2020). Migration: Key fundamental rights concerns - Quarterly Bulletin 4 - 2020.
[907] aditus foundation. (November 2020). Input to the Consultation on the National Action Plan against Racism and Xenophobia.
[908] AIDA Bulgaria. (2021). Country Report: Bulgaria - 2020 Update. Edited by ECRE. Written by Bulgarian Helsinki Committee.
[909] AIDA Portugal. (2021). Country Report: Portugal - 2020 Update. Edited by ECRE. Written by Portuguese Refugee Council (CPR).
[910] AIDA Hungary. (2021). Country Report: Hungary - 2020 Update. Edited by ECRE. Written by Hungarian Helsinki Committee.
[911] AIDA Slovenia. (2021). Country Report: Slovenia - 2020 Update. Edited by ECRE. Written by Legal-Informational Centre for NGOs (PIC).
[912] Department of Justice and Equality | An Roinn Dlí Agus Cirt Agus Comhionannais. (2020, October 21). Report of the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support including Accommodation to Persons in the International Protection Process.