Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Ethics In Practice: Case Study no. 1 (crime)

We will now start presenting real-life scenarios on our blog in order to talk about the application of our ethical principles.


A fellow from T & I has recently sent us an electronic letter describing the following scenario: Suppose that we live in a country where violation of human rights by the government is quite common. Suppose we were asked to help one of the victims of the government to flee (illegally) the country. 

Considering the ethical codes for Australia, Brazil, and United States, can we think of ourselves as someone who is acting ethically if we help the victim with our work, say we interpret what they say to Americans who will rescue them from the country where they live?


In principle, anything that we do that may bring shame to our fellows in the profession should be considered breach of ethics, so that the ethical code is not really a requirement to judge breach of ethics. 

Committing crime is definitely something that may bring shame to our fellows in the profession, and really big shame (suppose we are caught doing that and then a newspaper publishes that a professional interpreter has helped the victim flee the country, for instance).

We then would say that it is unreasonable not to help the person. 

Perhaps it is.

Notice that there is shame for our fellows only if we get caught by someone, if we get denounced, if something gets to be published, and etc.

Of course, if the victim then counts on the class for help in order to commit more crimes, for instance, the class may also feel ashamed.

Then, one would say that this interpreter is actually a hero or a heroin of some sort and they could not be seen as criminals instead.

We would say that they are heroes only for the victim: They are actually criminals for everyone who believes that the laws should be obeyed, say the population of the country where they live.

Does that mean that the interpreter cannot help the victim?

No, it is obviously not the case that they cannot help: Just like the law, there is very little that the ethical code, and even an ethical organ, can do to stop non-compliance from happening.

It is obviously the case that the ethical organ will consider all aspects of the issue when judging compliance as well, say that the person needed to be removed from the country to save their lives and they were being attacked illegally by the government.

It is probably the case that this interpreter would never be discredited for helping the victim: At most they would have to spend some time without working in the profession, as for official records.

This would only happen if they were denounced or if what they did reached the ethical organ's ears somehow and the organ took action.  

If this had happened in Brazil, SINTRA could make use of the second paragraph of the first article of its code to discipline the interpreter. 

If this had happened in Australia, AUSIT could make use of the first principle of its code to discipline the interpreter. 

If this had happened in the United States of America, ATA could make use of the fifth item of its code to discipline the interpreter.  

Please help the SPTIA help our professional class by doing one of its courses:

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