Monday, August 01, 2011

Umubyeyi—interpretation errors

Umubyeyi v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2011 FC 69 (CanLII)

Judge: Justice Noël

Date heard: January 17, 2011

Date decided: January 19, 2011

Counsel for Umubyeyi: Isaac Owusu-Sechere

Counsel for Minister: Korinda McLaine

Place of Hearing: Ottawa, Ontario

The applicant is a Rwandan national whose refugee claim was denied on the basis that her testimony was vague, and the applicant alleged on the basis on improper translation (para. 1-2).

The decision notes that the procedural fairness issues of interpretation are to be reviewed on a correctness standard (para. 4). The Court did not review the recording of the hearing and does not speak the language of interpretation, therefore it relied on an affidavit which attested that “there were indeed discrepancies in the translation” (para. 5). The Court noted that the right to interpretation is grounded in s. 14 of the Charter, which is supported by the case law, and gives an applicant a right  to translation “the is “continuous, precise, competent, impartial and contemporaneous” (paras. 6-7).

The judge noted that applicant ought to raise the issue of interpretation at the RPD hearing (para. 7). However, this may not be possible where the language barriers are such that no one can appreciate errors are being made (para. 8).

The judge also noted that there is some division in the jurisprudence on how error-free the interpretation must be to attract reversal by the Court(para. 9). However, “the affidavit evidence is sufficient to establish a concern of the adequacy of the translation at the Board hearing” (para. 10). Specifically, there were translation errors that led the RPD to make a negative credibility finding (para. 11).

As there was nothing to suggest that the RPD Member made any errors (since the interpretation errors were not known during the hearing), the case was sent back to be reheard by the same Member.


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