Judicial interpreters on strike from today; delays expected in court cases, immigration procedures

Gavel with lady justice in the background
Gavel with lady justice in the backgroundPhoto: SergPoznanskiy/DepositPhotos

At least 1,500 interpreters in the Netherlands are on strike from Monday - they will no longer take work from the judiciary, police and immigration and naturalization service IND. The interpreters are striking against government budget cuts, which they believe come at the expense of quality. According to action group Registertolken en -vertalers, the strike will last as long as necessary, AD reports.

The strike may have major consequences for court cases, asylum- and immigration procedures, and police interrogations. For example, suspects in a court case who do not speak Dutch are entitled to an interpreter. If no interpreter can be found, the case must be postponed. Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security was informed of the strike by letter.

A total of 2,600 people in the Netherlands are registered n the national register of interpreters and translators. Some 2 thousand of them signed a resolution with demands, and around 1,500 indicated that they will take part in the strike, Ani Getcheva of action group Registertolken en -vertalers said to AD. "But that number is growing by the hour. We work for the court, police and the IND. This means that all courts in the Netherlands will have difficulty finding interpreters. The interviews with the police cannot take place with foreign-language suspects either, and the interviews with the IND cannot either. We think that the planning of the entire system will get stuck."

The action group hopes that the strike will result in higher rates, but that is not the main reason. "The biggest problem is that the Minister has decided to open the register, also for people with a lower language proficiency. Those people are not even trained in specific interpreting skills. The fact that you speak the language does not mean that you can also interpret. By opening up the register, people are brought in at the same rates. We fear that the highly qualified will then withdraw."

The interpreters are also against Grapperhaus' plan to hire commercial companies for interpreting work.