I came up with the following issues when translating some asylum decision cases from the Finnish police service:
First: When the police give a negative decision to an asylum seeker there is only one interpreter giving the information to that person. The person translates-interprets the main essence of the decision, or why the person got a negative decision and will have to return to his or her country. You are also told that you have 30 days to appeal.
In the last paragraph of the decision, however, it states: The decision has to be translated to the mother tongue of the person concerned or in another language known to him or her. In Finnish it reads: Päätös on tulkittava henkilön äidinkielelle tai muulle hänen ymmärtämälleen kielelle (UIKL 203S).
Second: In the document where the negative decision is given, there is no mention of the Aliens Act (Ulkomaalaislaki) and no one translates this to the asylum seekers and explains what the law is. For most asylum seekers there is not only a need to translate but to explain as well the law to them because some may have a limited educational background or even be illiterate.
Third: Asylum seeker have the right to know why they got their request for asylum turned down. This is important if they are going to appeal the decision. How are they going to appeal if they don’t know why their application was rejected? Moreover, how can the asylum seeker explain this and his case to the lawyer if the information he or she received from the interpreter is deficient or wrong?
Fourth: Some interpreters-translators at the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) interview misunderstand and give wrong details to the judges because they commit mistakes. Some of the “misunderstanding” can be intentional because the authorities assume that the asylum seeker is lying.
There are cases where asylum seekers are misled by incompetent interpreters, the police service and Migri, which wants these people to leave the country as fast as possible
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