Interpreting for Refugees: “Where practicable and necessary only?”


  • Fatima Khan University of Cape Town Refugee Rights Unit



South Africa, asylum application, refugee status determination, legal interpreting, court interpreting, law


Legal interpreting is a highly specialized profession, not simply a function that any bilingual person can perform. Countries that have laws and regulations on court interpreting have them on the basis that everyone (including linguistic minorities) has the right to due process. In South Africa legal interpreting takes place in a variety of state institutions and the Refugee Reception Offices of the Department of Home affairs is one such setting. The present study investigates legal interpreting at asylum determinations and hearings. The focus is on two stages of the asylum application, which are crucial for determining refugee status. This paper aims to explore the right of an asylum seeker to an interpreter at these stages of the status determination procedure. It will also compare this right to the existing right in international law and assess whether South Africa has met the minimum requirement to enable a due process.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Fatima Khan, University of Cape Town Refugee Rights Unit

Fatima Khan (BA, HDE, LLB, LLM) is the Director of the Refugee Rights Unit. She is an Attorney of the High Court of South Africa and lectures the Refugee Law Course to the final year LLB students as well as Refugee Law and Human Rights course to students at a Masters level (LLM, MPhil) in the University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Law.



How to Cite

Khan, F. (2013). Interpreting for Refugees: “Where practicable and necessary only?”. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 28(2), 93–105.



Special Section on South Africa

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.