The research overview aims to give an account of earlier studies in the field of interpreting in the asylum determination process, with a particular focus on the interviews and negotiations that take place when authorities process asylum cases. The overview is based on articles, reports and books that discuss interpreting in institutional contexts in general and interpreting in the asylum process in particular. The focus lies on studies of meetings between migration authorities and asylum-seekers and, more specifically, asylum determination meetings.

Some conclusions and recommendations

  • The most important conclusion is that improving and professionalising the function of interpreting in the asylum determination process is necessary and urgent.
  • It is suggested to strengthen the professional status of public service interpreting, to make the established ethics of interpreting more widely known and to give interpreters and other participants in asylum interviews access to training of communicative strategies in order to secure and enable thorough and impartial performance.
  • A rather basic but crucial insight for the participants is that turn-taking in interpreter-mediated interactions, with certainty, differs from monolingual interactions, and this is a fact that has a substantial impact on coherence and spontaneity in interpreter-mediated interaction.
  • So far, the existing research is limited. There are few detailed studies of authentic interpreter-mediated asylum interviews, in particular of those interviews where the interpreter participates via telephone or video technique.
  • An essential part of the preparedness for asylum reception, is to make the interpreting profession more firmly established. This can be achieved through educational programs; increasing the knowledge demands in and about languages and about interpreting and asylum-related issues for interpreters in the asylum determination process.
  • Similarly, we call for an improvement of the case workers’ and other relevant parties’ knowledge on how interpreter-mediated interaction functions as a specific form of communication and on which demands can be placed – and cannot be placed – on qualified interpreters.

The research overview is written by Cecilia Wadensjö, professor in translation and interpretation at Stockholm University, in cooperation with Hanna Sofia Rehnberg, Senior Lecturer in journalism at Södertörns University, and Zoe Nikolaidou, associate professor in Swedish at the same University.

The report is only available in Swedish but includes a summary in English. Please contact Delmi if you are interested in finding out more.

Picture by Van Tay Media from Unsplash.