Revista de Llengua i Dret - Journal of Language and Law (Jun 2019)

Interpreter-mediated Questioning of Minors (ImQM): the voice of the children and their rapport with interpreters

  • Heidi Salaets,
  • Katalin Balogh

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 0, no. 71
pp. 27 – 44


Read online

This paper focuses on interpreter-mediated interviews with victims, suspects and witnesses under the age of 18 who are vulnerable because of their age, native language and country of presence, with particular emphasis on how to provide the necessary information, support, and protection for this group. The paper reports on the results of the European project Cooperation in Interpreter-Mediated Questioning of Minors (CMIQ). As the name suggests, cooperation or teamwork amongst the stakeholders is of paramount importance in interpreter-mediated questioning of minors (ImQM). This contribution will focus on the semi-structured interviews conducted by the Belgian researchers with twelve Flemish children, boys and girls aged 5 to 17, of which 11 were hearing and 1 was deaf. Based on the outcomes of the twelve semi-structured interviews with minors, results point at specific perceptions of the interpreter reported by children: the interpreter seems to be the person they turn to when speaking and the person they trust most. Since ethical codes prescribe, amongst other things, neutrality and often even ‘invisibility’ of the interpreter, reflection on this topic is necessary. Based on the paramount importance of rapport-building with the child, this paper argues that the role of interpreters should be discussed certainly during a briefing, but also in interprofessional joint training. In this way, all stakeholders improve their knowledge of their respective professional roles in situations of ImQM, which further helps to tackle some contradictory expectations in regard to the role of the interpreter.