THE CODE OF ETHICS FOR COMMUNITY INTERPRETERS was approved by the executive boards of the Stridon Slovene Association of Translation Studies (on 9 January 2021), the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Slovenia (on 21 January 2021), the Slovene Association of Conference Interpreters (on 21 January 2021) and the Association of Slovenian Sign Language Interpreters (on 1 February 2021). The Code, which was inspired by the codes of ethics for community interpreters from different countries,[i] aims to serve as a guide to community interpreters when facing ethical dilemmas in their professional activities.
COMMUNITY INTERPRETERS, on one hand, enable public service providers to deliver services to the beneficiaries who do not speak Slovene or have limited proficiency in Slovene (Limited Slovene proficient (LSP) users), and, on the other hand, assist LSP users and those who do not speak Slovene to access Slovene public services and the services of other segments of the Slovene society. The interpreters thus ensure a quality delivery of public services and, at the same time, prevent social exclusion of groups or individuals who do not understand Slovene or lack proficiency in Slovene. Community interpreters establish communication between such users and public service providers at national or local levels, in healthcare, educational and police settings, in humanitarian or religious organizations, NGOs, in business and industry and in crisis situations.
More detailed guidelines for the practice of community interpreters are available in the Slovene standards of Practice for Community Interpreters.[ii]
Code of Ethics for Community Interpreters
1. ACCURACY AND ADEQUACY
Community interpreters strive to transfer the message from one language to the other as accurately and adequately as possible, while maintaining the tone of the original message and taking into account the cultural context of the utterance.
Community interpreters avoid taking sides while interpreting and refrain from expressing any kind of personal bias or prejudice. They do not give advice to speakers or side with either party in the communication event.
Community interpreters may depart from impartiality only if the well-being, dignity, life or health of one of the parties is severely compromised or in jeopardy. The interpreters may intervene for a speaker whose well-being is in danger only if they acquire the speaker’s explicit consent.
Community interpreters do not disclose any information that they acquire in the performance of their professional duties. They are nevertheless aware that in specific and exceptional cases allowed by the law (142/2 KZ-1)[iii] they may disclose information if the disclosure is made for the general good or for the legitimate interest of the public, some other person’s benefit, and where the good or benefit therein is greater than that of withholding the disclosed information.<0} Similarly to the regulations and laws defining the work of physicians (45/3 ZpacP)[iv], as members of the treating team the interpreters may also disclose confidential information should the non-disclosure lead to a life-threatening situation or result in a serious physical harm. The interpreters may disclose confidential information only to a party who, in their view, is in a position to prevent the negative consequences of non-disclosure.
4. PROFESSIONAL ROLE
Community interpreters maintain and are aware of the boundaries of their professional role, know their duties and their limitations, and refrain from personal involvement. Community interpreters must not assume the roles of other speakers in the interpreted interaction.
Community interpreters show respect to and for all participants in the interpreted communication, regardless of their race, gender, language or dialect, nationality, religious or political orientation, sexual orientation, disability or age.
6. CULTURAL COMPETENCE
Community interpreters have a high competence in the cultures of their working languages and strive to improve their cultural knowledge throughout their career.
7. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Community interpreters continuously seek to maintain and improve their knowledge and skills.
8. PROFESSIONAL AND COLLEGIAL CONDUCT
Community interpreters continuously strive to act in a professional and collegial manner.
They do not accept assignments for which they do not have enough knowledge or skills or where they could not act impartially. They advocate for adequate working conditions and draw attention to any circumstances or other issues that might influence the quality of their service, such as fatigue, bad sound, poor visibility, their unfamiliarity with the technical terminology or with a particular dialect. They treat other community interpreters in a friendly and respectful way, and reject any assignments they cannot provide at the required professional level or those that could harm or negatively reflect on the community interpreting profession.
[i] The Code was inspired by the codes of ethics from Britain (National Register of Public Service Interpreters. 2016. Code of Professional Conduct, http://www.nrpsi.org.uk/for-clients-of-interpreters/code-of-professional-conduct.html); Ireland (Irish Translators’ & Interpreters’ Association. Code of Ethics for Community Interpreters. https://www.translatorsassociation.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Code-of-Ethics-for-Community-Interpreters.pdf); Sweden (God tolksed – Vägledning För auktoriserade tolkar. 2019. https://www.kammarkollegiet.se/download/18.27f1fe4c168c1d817515205f/1551777027993/God_tolksed_mars2019.pdf); Finland (The Code of Ethics for Community Interpreters and the Good Interpreting Practice, http://wasli.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/80_coe-svt.pdf); Australia (AUSIT Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct, http://ausit.org/AUSIT/Documents/Code_Of_Ethics_Full.pdf), and the codes of ethics for healthcare interpreters from the U.S.A (National Council on Interpreting in Health Care. 2004. A National Code of Ethics for Interpreters in Health Care. www.ncihc.org/assets/documents/publications/NCIHC%20National%20Code%20of%20Ethics.pdf; International Medical Interpreters Association. 2008. Code of Ethics for Medical Interpreters. www.imiaweb.org/uploads/pages/376.pdf).
[ii] Available only in Slovene.