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We should protect interpreters in conflict zones!

Written declaration No. 442 | Doc. 12239 | 29 April 2010

Mr Dick MARTY, Switzerland, ALDE ; Mr Miloš ALIGRUDIĆ, Serbia, EPP/CD ; Ms Marieluise BECK, Germany, ALDE ; Ms Marie-Louise BEMELMANS-VIDEC, Netherlands, EPP/CD ; Ms Anne BRASSEUR, Luxembourg, ALDE ; Mr André BUGNON, Switzerland, ALDE ; Mr Gianni FARINA, Italy, SOC ; Mr Hans FRANKEN, Netherlands, EPP/CD ; Mr Jean-Charles GARDETTO, Monaco, EPP/CD ; Mr Andreas GROSS, Switzerland, SOC ; Ms Ana GUŢU, Republic of Moldova, ALDE ; Mr Andres HERKEL, Estonia, EPP/CD ; Mr Serhiy HOLOVATY, Ukraine, ALDE ; Ms Francine JOHN-CALAME, Switzerland, SOC ; Ms Corien W.A. JONKER, Netherlands, EPP/CD ; Mr Haluk KOÇ, Turkey, SOC ; Mr Franz Eduard KÜHNEL, Austria, EPP/CD ; Mr Jaakko LAAKSO, Finland, UEL ; Mr Göran LINDBLAD, Sweden, EPP/CD ; Mr Pietro MARCENARO, Italy, SOC ; Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER, Switzerland, SOC ; Mr Silver MEIKAR, Estonia, ALDE ; Mr Jean-Claude MIGNON, France, EPP/CD ; Mr Pieter OMTZIGT, Netherlands ; Ms Ganira PASHAYEVA, Azerbaijan, EDG ; Ms Marietta de POURBAIX-LUNDIN, Sweden, EPP/CD ; Mr Christos POURGOURIDES, Cyprus, EPP/CD ; Mr Yves POZZO DI BORGO, France, EPP/CD ; Ms Mailis REPS, Estonia, ALDE ; Mr Paul ROWEN, United Kingdom, ALDE ; Mr Kimmo SASI, Finland, EPP/CD ; Ms Marina SCHUSTER, Germany, ALDE ; Mr Samad SEYIDOV, Azerbaijan, EDG ; Mr Leonid SLUTSKY, Russian Federation, SOC ; Ms Doris STUMP, Switzerland, SOC ; Mr Björn von SYDOW, Sweden, SOC ; Mr Latchezar TOSHEV, Bulgaria, EPP/CD ; Mr Luca VOLONTÈ, Italy, EPP/CD ; Mr Klaas de VRIES, Netherlands, SOC ; Mr Andrej ZERNOVSKI, ''The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia'', ALDE

In conflict zones, interpreters are on the front line. No register records interpreters’ deaths, but it is believed that, between 2003 and 2008, 360 were killed in Iraq.

Interpreters – frequently ill-informed about their duties and rights – have inadequate (physical and legal) protection. With their families, they are often left unprotected in post-conflict situations and no priority whatsoever is given to their asylum requests.

Lacking any official status, interpreters run serious risks. While the Geneva Conventions recognise the need for linguistic mediation in order to protect the rights of individuals, the rights of interpreters, for their part, are not dealt with in any way.

We hereby:

  • call on member states to provide better protection for interpreters during and following conflicts;
  • remind member states of the need to be scrupulous in their application of the few provisions of international law that do exist in order to provide interpreters with better protection, inter alia by assimilating them into other categories of staff mentioned in the Geneva Conventions;
  • emphasise the neutrality and impartiality of interpreters, whose safety should be ensured in conflict zones in the same way as that of ICRC staff.