Lost for Words: Interpretation Services Failing Asylum Seekers

Ireland/Greece - Interpretation is a vital but under-investigated aspect of the international asylum application process.

For all the importance placed on interpretation in EU institutions, standards of interpretation provided to asylum seekers at the local level are surprisingly unregulated and therefore often alarmingly inadequate.

This threatens the human rights of those seeking asylum and the delays that result from interpretation problems exacerbate other local issues. Housing and service provision can become a problem in communities trying to accommodate asylum seekers.

We see this in Dublin, Ireland and Malakasa near Athens, Greece, two local hubs where many asylum seekers wait for their cases to be processed.

In Dublin, new asylum seekers sleep in tents on the street due to lack of accommodation while interpretation issues cause delays for those already in the system. In Greece, asylum proceedings are sometimes conducted without any interpretation at all, in violation of national and international law.

Despite government promises, interpreters and asylum seekers have described a poor system that hasn’t been fixed for decades.

Illustration by Team