Refugee Status Appeals Authority  





Before:                               D J Plunkett (Member)

Counsel for the Appellants:  D Mansouri-Rad

Appearing for the NZIS:        No appearance

Date of Hearing:                  18 September 2001

Date of Minute:                   27 September 2001


[1] These are appeals by a family of Roma of Czech nationality, comprising the husband, wife and a child.

[2] They arrived in New Zealand in April and October 2000 and made applications for refugee status in May and October 2000.  Following interviews with a refugee status officer on 21 January 2001, the applications were declined on 25 June 2001.  It is from those decisions that the appellants appeal to this Authority.

[3] They appeared, with counsel, at the scheduled hearing.  At the outset, counsel formally objected to the interpreter appointed by the Authority, who had been the interpreter used at the interviews with the refugee status officer.  Counsel had foreshadowed his objection in a brief memorandum filed on 13 September 2001.

[4] The Authority referred counsel to the decision of Nicholson J in A v Refugee Status Appeals Authority (High Court, M757-SW00, Auckland, 25 August 2000).  In summary, a challenge to an interpreter's competence or independence requires cogent or clear and convincing evidence.

[5] In this case, it was alleged that the interpreter had, on one occasion during the interview with the refugee status officer, challenged the evidence of the wife.  The interpreter said, in English (therefore being an observation directed to the refugee status officer) that what the wife said was not true.  It was not a translation of what had been said by the witness.  It was the interpreter's "editorial comment".  The interpreter had additionally, after the interview, made remarks concerning Roma of a general prejudicial nature.

[6] The Authority has in the past been faced with spurious objections to interpreters and in the light of the decision in A v Refugee Status Appeals Authority, it will not readily discharge an interpreter.  However, in the circumstances of this case, it finds that the presumption of independence of the interpreter has been rebutted.  The Authority was particularly concerned about the intervention during the interview.  It observes that this was an appropriate case for the issue to be considered prior to the hearing.  The hearing is to be adjourned to allow the Authority's secretariat to arrange the appointment of another interpreter.


"D J Plunkett"
[D J Plunkett]