Translating Safety Guidelines for Translators and Interpreters

At Eriksen, we respect the critical role translators and interpreters (T/Is) play in supporting peace and humanitarian action throughout the world. To help protect the safety of the international T/I community, we contribute translation and typesetting services to make vital field guides available in 25 languages.

In 2015, an Iraqi interpreter spent 131 days in a Turkish maximum-security prison for helping British journalists report on the clashes between pro-Kurdish youth and Turkish security forces. An interpreter in Caracas received dozens of death threats after working for a journalist covering the 2013 Venezuelan presidential election. In 2016, two translators were gunned down by extremists in the Central African Republic for translating the Bible. Unfortunately, such incidents are just the tip of the iceberg.

when doing your job puts you at risk

T/Is facilitate communication around the world. They help maintain international peace and security, and they assist organizations that protect human rights and deliver humanitarian aid. However, the very nature of their profession puts them in harm’s way. In times of war, T/Is are often viewed as traitors and kidnapped, tortured, or killed. Those who work in counter-terrorism are in danger of being prosecuted as terrorist agents. And linguists have been imprisoned or sentenced to death when the content they are translating is considered controversial by the state.

With the persecution of T/Is on the rise, Red T has taken up the cause. The nonprofit organization advocates on their behalf to give them a voice. It educates and rallies the public, working to dispel the perception of translators as traitors and helping to advance the world’s understanding of the profession.

developing the field guide

Linguists working in high-risk environments are extremely vulnerable and require protection both during and after a conflict. Educating T/Is about the standards and ethics of their profession will empower them to take an active role in maintaining their own safety. At the same time, organizations that employ their services need to be made aware of the related responsibility to offer the appropriate protection.

To address these issues, Red T worked in partnership with the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) and the International Federation of Translators (FIT) to draft a Conflict Zone Field Guide for Civilian Translators/Interpreters and Users of Their Services outlining the basic rights, responsibilities, and practices recommended by the three organizations. In so doing, they have provided an important resource for linguists working for the armed forces, journalists, NGOs, and other parties operating in conflict zones and high-risk settings.

translating the Field Guide

In order to reach these T/Is and those who employ them, the guides had to be translated into a variety of relevant languages and then typeset. Vigdis Eriksen, chair of Red T and one of its founding board members, has long been supporting Red T’s communication needs through the pro-bono translation and typesetting of the Conflict Zone Field Guides.

Every time Red T adds a new language to its field guide arsenal, Eriksen takes on the job. Our work on the field guides is conducted with the same standards applied in all of our translation work: The text undergoes meticulous translation, editing, and quality control to ensure that it is clear and accurately reflects the source material. During typesetting, we make certain the content adheres to typographical rules and the layout is clean and professional. And the result is field guides that are accessible and user-friendly, with easily digestible information presented in layouts that are consistent across languages.

accessible in 25 languages

The field guides are now available online in 25 languages and will continue to be translated and uploaded on an as-needed basis. By increasing accessibility to such a valuable resource, Red T is taking a major step in safeguarding those linguists most at risk.

At Eriksen, we are proud to support Red T’s mission to establish translators and interpreters as a global, impartial, and protected community. We are committed to helping the organization realize a world in which translators and interpreters can work free from fear of persecution, prosecution, imprisonment, abduction, torture, and assassination.

Visit the Red T website to view and download the field guides in all 25 languages.