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Right to an interpreter

UNHCR’s Procedural Standards for RSD under UNHCR’s Mandate

Quick reference guide

The following is a RSDWatch summary and analysis of UNHCR’s Procedural Standards for Refugee Status Determination under UNHCR’s Mandate, published by UNHCR in September 2005.  All references (i.e. section x.x) are to these Standards, unless otherwise noted.

Right to an interpreter

UNHCR’s RSD standards provide: “Applicants for RSD should have access to the services of trained and qualified interpreters at all stages of the RSD process” (section 2.5.1). UNHCR’s standards require field offices to make “every effort” to provide female interpreters for female applicants, but stop short of committing to do so in every case.

UNHCR’s policy is to use its own interpreters in RSD interviews. “Applicants should be permitted to use the services of their own interpreter only where no qualified UNHCR interpreter is available” (section 2.5.1). UNHCR’s policy prohibits legal representatives from acting as interpreters. (section 2.5.2).

Interpreters are prohibited from participating in credibility assessment or decision-making regarding the refugee claim, “except as it relates to the use of language and dialect by the Applicant” (section 2.5.4).

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