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Courts to Supervise Interpreters' Service Following Intervention by ACRI

The Director of the Israel's Courts Administration has agreed to find a new company to provide interpretation services after considering a complaint by flagship NIF grantee Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

A large number of Israelis are unable to speak and understand Hebrew, including members of the Arab minority, new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia and other countries, foreign workers and refugees. In order to ensure that these people are given a fair trial, they have the right to the services of an interpreter. However, since the services were privatized in 2003, the quality of the service has deteriorated drastically.

In November Michal Pinchuk, an attorney for ACRI, wrote to Moshe Gal, Director of the Israel Courts Administration, requesting the need for urgent action on this matter. "This service touches upon the core of human rights - the right of access to the courts," she wrote.

Last week, ACRI received a response from Barak Lazer, Senior Assistant to the Director of Courts. "As you note in your letter," he said, "the professional level of court interpretation services are not satisfactory."

Consequently, the Courts Administration agreed to issue a new contract for interpretation services stressing that "unprofessional translation of remarks leads to serious distortions of justice."

Pinchuk also sent recommendations regarding interpretation services and the Court Administration promised to take these into account when selecting the new company.

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$250 million to Israeli social change groups since 1979.