Luces y sombras (Amberes II)

In: Profesionales

15 Dic 2009

Pieter BruegelLa vida no siempre es jauja y hubo críticas al proyecto EULITA. Un hecho saludable y que se merece una entrada propia para reproducir los puntos de mayor interés. Para facilitar y condensar la comprensión me atengo a la carta recibida por parte de FIT y que reproduzco en su redacción original en el idioma de Shakespeare:

Dear colleagues


As participants in the capacity of experts through representatives of our Committee for Court Interpreting and Legal Translation, the International Federation of Translators (FIT) has been involved in the EULITA project since its inception and fully supports the creation of an association to represent translators and interpreters in the legal field at a European level and to improve their expertise and interaction with the authorities. We salute all those involved for then commitment and the time and effort dedicated to bringing the project to fruition. We are convinced that EULITA has an important role to play and its creation will be of benefit to the profession.

It is also important for all stakeholders in the field to cooperate and support one another’s efforts to the benefit of the profession and we hope that such positive interaction will continue to take place between EULITA and FIT.

At the same time, FIT as a federation is responsible to its members, and we therefore opened the EULITA mandate and constitution to our members for comment. Various common concerns were raised. You may well have received comment on these matters from other quarters, but FIT would like to place on record its reactions and we hope to receive feedback on how these concerns will be dealt with in due course. We trust that these comments will be taken in the positive spirit in which they are made.

  1. In the light of different terminology and conventions used in different countries, it is felt that it would be wise to define the term «legal interpreters and translators» in the constitution, so that it is clear what it refers to in the name of EULITA.
  2. There is concern in some quarters about associate membership being granted to non-EU-based associations when EULITA is an association that caters exclusively to European needs. Since these members do not have voting rights, it should not be a major problem, but it might be useful to know the reason for allowing this.
  3. There is a strong feeling that individuals should not be allowed as members of EULITA except for short, defined periods as a group in the process of establishing an appropriate association in a country where one does not yet exist.
  4. It is also not felt to be appropriate to have non-translation or -interpreting associations or  individuals as members, except in the case of relevant training institutions. The reason to have these members is not clear and a precedent does not exist in other professional associations
  5. There is serious concern about the criterion for membership of EULITA on the basis of «attested, or certified, or accredited framing» without any details of what the training should comprise or who decides what training is acceptable.
  6. There is a feeling that the goal of EULITA «to support and represent the interests and concerns of the profession of legal interpreters and translators vis-a-vis national, European and international organizations and institutions» has been unfortunately formulated and needs to be expanded to make it clear that EULITA in no way intends to take over the role of national organizations (without in any way compromising the value of EULITA supporting national associations in their efforts at that level).
  7. There is concern in certain quarters that EULITA may be seen by some as the only body representing the field of legal translation and interpreting, to the exclusion of national associations and others. This could furthermore have a wider impact if EULITA should be approached to act as an agency in providing translations and other services, which would be inappropriate for an association of this type. This question needs to be given due consideration.

I look forward to your reaction on these matters in due course and am sure they will be given the necessary attention by the first executive committee of EULITA.

In the meantime, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all those involved every success with the launch of EULITA and the conference later this week.

Yours sincerely

Marion Boers

FIT President

Antes de iniciar el congreso de Amberes se acordó que lo más apropiado sería contestar por escrito a dicha carta. Así se hizo y la contestación de EULITA, que fue consensuada y adoptada por unanimidad por todos nosotros, es la que sigue:

Re.: Concerns relating to EULITA

Dear Marion,
Thank you very much for your letter of 24 November addressed to all EULITA Project Partners, which gave a balanced account of the concerns among FIT Council Members and FIT members in relation to EULITA.

The EULITA Project Team discussed the various points mentioned by you in its meeting on Thursday morning, i.e. before the EULITA launch conference. The attention of the members of the first Executive Committee was also drawn to these concerns, and I was eventually asked to forward the below comments to you as EULITA’s reaction to the questions raised.

1) Definition of the term “legal interpreters and translators” Our intention was to cover not only interpreters and translators working at courts but all interpreters and translators working in a legal context, i.e. at police interviews, in court proceedings, asylum procedures, in lawyer-client consultations, in post-trial measures, etc. Moreover, in the course of the last decade the terms “legal interpreter” and “legal translator” have been used in various EU projects (e.g. Agis, Grotius) dealing with interpreters and translators working in these various settings and found their way into various DG JLS and EU Council documents such as the Green Paper or the proposed Framework Decision on procedural safeguards in criminal proceedings, or the Reflection Forum report on (legal) interpreter training commissioned by DG Interpretation. It therefore appeared quite logical to continue this practice with the EULITA project. Moreover, the practice in EU member states differs to such an extent – one uses e.g. sworn, court, certified, authorized, specialized interpreters/translators, to cite only those (also the FIT Committee uses “court interpreters and legal translator” in one and the same phrase) – that a single straightforward term referring to the comprehensive context of the legal settings seemed called for. A definition of the concept of “legal interpreters and translators” will feature on the EULITA website, so as to avoid any misunderstandings, especially among those translating or interpreting legal texts but not being translators and interpreters working in a judicial context. In time it will even be possible to adopt a definition of the concept which then, by amendment, can be incorporated in the EULITA Constitution, at the first General Assembly of EULITA, which will be held in a year’s time, if the EULITA members feel any need for it. Alternatively, it can simply be made part of the Internal Regulations.

2) Membership of non-EU-based associations in EULITA

It is common EU practice that EU-associated countries (Norway, Switzerland or Iceland, for example) or countries in the process of joining the EU (e.g. Croatia, Albania, etc.) can join EU-based associations in one form or another. Moreover, the interest expressed by overseas associations (e.g. NAJIT, USA) shows that EULITA should also open itself to such members and benefit from the exchange of experience with different parts of the world.

3) Individual membership

As there are currently several EU member states where legal interpreters and translators can only join EULITA as individuals, in the absence of associations of (legal) interpreters and translators, the EULITA Project Team feels that this is a possibility to foster association-building. Experience will show whether there is a need to be more specific in defining the admission criteria for individual members.

4) Non-translation or non-interpreting associations joining EULITA

Unlike in other settings in which associations generally function, the EU bodies expect EULITA to play an active role in the practical implementation of the future EU Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings, where major efforts will be required to cooperate with the other stakeholders in the judicial field. The conference accompanying the launch of EULITA last weekend also showed that police authorities, asylum authorities, judges, lawyers and criminal bar associations want to cooperate with legal interpreters and translators in order to improve mutual understanding and consequently the quality of the services provided by legal interpreters and translators.

5) Concern about “attested, certified or accredited training”

As there are different judicial systems in EU member states, the criteria for becoming a legal interpreter and translator also differ from country to country. The national systems for “certification” or “accreditation” will naturally serve as the point of reference when examining applications for membership. EULITA will certainly not impose any system of training upon any country or association. It will, however, recommend model curricula for the training of legal interpreters and translators in order to assist in the raising of quality standards for legal interpreting and translation.

6) Concern about “EULITA support and representing the interests of the profession vis-à-vis national organizations and institutions”

In order to avoid any misunderstanding, the EULITA Project Team re-phrased the relevant sentence (2.3.) in the Constitution to read: “… to support the interests and concerns of national associations of legal interpreters and translators and to represent the interests and concerns of the profession of legal interpreters and translators vis-à-vis European and international organizations and institutions.” It was, of course, never the intention of EULITA to bypass or interfere with any national efforts by associations of legal interpreters and translators. On the contrary, EULITA will always be ready to support legal interpreters and translators on a national level if requested for assistance vis-à-vis national authorities by national associations or by individual members in EU member states where such associations as yet do not exist.

7) Concern about EULITA presenting itself as the only body representing the field of legal translation and interpreting

Tthe full members of EULITA are the national or regional associations of legal interpreters and translators in EU member states. They approve the work of the Executive Committee in the annual General Assembly. This means that they control the direction in which the association develops. EULITA’s Mission Statement defines very clearly that the association does not intend to strive to obtain any “dominating” position in the field of legal interpreting and translation. It should also be borne in mind that EULITA has been set up as a “not-for-profit association” (aisbl) under Belgian law, which precludes any involvement in commercial activities.

I hope that these answers have shed some more light on the intentions of EULITA. Please don’t hesitate to contact the EULITA Executive Committee if you or any FIT Council Member or FIT member would like to have further comments or explanations. May I also ask you to forward these comments to your Council Members and your member associations, so that they will have a better understanding of the recognition that has been given to the profession of legal interpreting and legal translation by the creation of EULITA. At the same time, EULITA would like to invite them to cooperate with us in a constructive and pro-active spirit.

With best regards,

Liese Katschinka, m.p.


European Legal Interpreters

and Translators Association

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Me llamo Fernando A. Gascón Nasarre. Ejerzo de abogado en Zaragoza y soy intérprete jurado de alemán. De la combinación de ambos campos surgen mis especialidades: las traducciones jurídicas y las interpretaciones judiciales.

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