AUTHOR: OKENU, BUIHE P.
FROM: THE DIGNITY OF A FRENCH TEACHER: CELEBRATING PROF. JULIE AGBASIERE
Effective communication and cultural awareness are central to a successful representation of clients in asylum cases especially where the clients do not share the same linguistic and cultural heritage with the lawyer. These asylum seekers usually have recourse to translators in order to make their asylum applications and defend it in court. A case study shows that a petition for an asylum case can be denied as a result of inaccurate translation and inadequate knowledge of the culture of the applicant. The stakes are very high in asylum cases because the denial of the case means that the asylum seeker will be sent back to her country where she will face persecution, torture or death. It becomes necessary for the lawyer to employ cross-cultural lawyering. S/he needs to devote more time and effort than usual to researching the client’s country conditions and understanding her culture. The lawyer should not let her/her own culture and biases interfere with and influence assessment of the client’s case. S/he should be acquainted with a fair knowledge of the client’s use of language so as to overcome inaccurate translations especially of technical terms and idiomatic expressions.
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