Taiwan High Court, Taipei, Taipei City. Photo: Google Maps
Taiwan High Court, Taipei, Taipei City. Photo: Google Maps

With increasing numbers of court cases involving foreign nationals, and in hopes of better protecting the rights of migrant workers, Taiwanese authorities are being urged to improve court interpretation services, United Daily News reported.

There have been a few notable cases involving foreign nationals that reveal the problems of court interpretation services in Taiwan.

Last August, an Indonesian fisherman was found dead on a fishing vessel in the waters off Taiwan, and a coroner’s court initially ruled that no foul play was suspected. However, it turned out that the court interpreter had failed to understand a central Javanese dialect, which would have revealed the truth that the victim had suffered from physical abuses that claimed his life.

Chun Jifang, a legal advisory officer from the Awakening Foundation, a Taiwan-based organization that fights for women’s rights, told the media that she had once met a Filipino who had been sexually abused but the victim received very little help from the legal system as she couldn’t speak English.

Finding capable interpreters is difficult, and Taiwan legal officials often  reach out to the representative offices of foreigners’ homelands for assistance; however, there is no guarantee that help can be obtained.

According to statistics, one out of every 10 offenders in Taiwan is a foreigner, meaning that quality court interpretation services are becoming more important.

The TransAsia Sisters Association, Taiwan is currently providing legal-interpretation courses focusing on Southeast Asian languages such as Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Khmer and Filipino, in order to train more professional interpreters to meet the rising demand.