THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Translators and Interpreters' Association of Jamaica (TIA) would like to comment on a remark made by Dr Orville Taylor in his column in The Sunday Gleaner on February 24, 2013.
The specific remark is the following: "Apparently, the other vessels either got lost at sea or, more likely, lost in the (unavailable) translation. It is an indictment on us that we do not have in place persons who have the capacity to communicate with these persons in an effective manner. No attempt was made to interview them for the purposes of asylum or to check their antecedents in Haiti to determine whether they would be in grave danger if deported.''
It is quite clear to TIA that no professional interpreters were contacted, and it appears that not even persons with a working knowledge of Haitian Creole were contacted.
The Haitian translators and interpreters in our association, as well as the head of the translation department at the Language Training Centre, have all indicated that they were not approached for assistance by any government agency. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' Washington Office issued a press release regretting that the screening for persecution before deportation, required by international human rights instruments, was not applied in Jamaica.
There are at least five Haitian Creole speakers who had been approached by the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency in 1991 to assist with translations on a voluntary basis after the first coup against President Aristide, yet none of these persons were contacted on this occasion.
There are other Haitians living in Jamaica who sometimes provide assistance in these situations, such as the Haitians working with the Salvation Army, Haitian students at the Caribbean Theological College, and others at the United Theological College.
As these situations are likely to recur, we urge the authorities to call on the resource persons here in Jamaica, before making any decision, to ensure that due process is followed when dealing with all who may come to our shores.
THE TRANSLATORS AND
ASSOCIATION OF JAMAICA