The function of a “court interpreter and/or translator” in the Federal Republic of Germany – preconditions, qualifications, compensations and legal basis
Helena Piprek, IGBG
The paper is dealing with the role and the function of a “court interpreter and/or translator” in the Federal Republic of Germany. The regulations of the ECHR European Convention on Human Rights (1950), which Germany underlies as well, are quite clear regarding the translation and/or interpreting process in the fields of “civil law matters” and “prosecution issues” – translation and/or interpreting services have to be provided “most detailed”. This can only be guaranteed by providing professionally educated translators and/or interpreters with a “double-competency”, i.e. having an additional good or very good command of the very specialized legal terminology. Furthermore, the ECHR has been followed by a range of German and European decisions consolidating the obvious connection between the high qualification of court interpreters and/or translators and guaranteeing fundamental rights.
This is the theory – the practice is completely different in Germany.
Justice: Unfortunately, we don´t have one comprehensive federal law regulating access, basic qualifications, compensations, etc. for court interpreters and/or translators. This is due to the federal system of Germany. The 16 German federal states are revising or passing its “Court Interpreter and/or Translator Laws” at the moment, some have already managed. The results we will be faced with are: Completely different preconditions, qualifications, compensations, etc. on the level of the German federal states which will be illustrated by some examples. Furthermore, current developments regarding compensation are not satisfying. Although we have a federal law (JVEG) regulating the compensation of translators and/or interpreters in the field of justice throughout Germany, more and more federal states are offering their own contracts having much worser financial conditions.
Internal affairs authorities (including police): Here, the situation is even more confusion. We don´t have to make special mention of what this means for the legal certainty and judicature concerning translation and/or interpreting services in Germany.
Finally, the speaker summarizes the most important demands from the IGBG point of view concerning the situation of court interpreters and/or –translators in Germany and with regard to the development on an EU level.