Call for interpreter to testify sends chill through profession

Posted on: September 7th, 2018 by Suzanne Deliscar Add A Comment

A call for an interpreter to testify about what happened at the recent closed-door meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin could discourage people from joining the profession, Brampton lawyer-linguist Suzanne Deliscar tells

The Canadian Press reports U.S. lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee wanted to call the State Department interpreter, the only other American present at the meeting, to give evidence about what was discussed in the two-hour private head-to-head meeting between the leaders in Finland.

“It was a very unusual and shocking request that could have a chilling effect,” says Deliscar, principal of Deliscar Professional Corporation, a law firm that offers services in English, French and Spanish. “Professional interpreters will not want to do interpretation work if they think they’re going to be asked to disclose what they heard.”

She says confidentiality is a “huge issue” for interpreters and translators.

“We always sign confidentiality agreements when we work with government agencies or their subcontractors,” Deliscar explains. “The idea is that the interpreter is a conduit, who is there to relay what is being said. It’s not their job to do anything else, so it’s a terrible situation for someone to be put in.

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