Local interpreters in Iraq

Interpreters Kurdistan Norwegian ArmySoldiers from the Telemark Battalion trains Peshmerga soldiers in basic soldier skills such as shooting, sanitary, EOD and simple variance techniques in a training camp in Erbil in northern Iraq (Kurdistan) Photo: Korsvold / Forsvar

Norway avoids local employment of interpreters in Iraq

In Afghanistan interpreters were employed locally, but in Iraq, Norway has paid them without being an employer. “The responsibility can be very unclear,” according to researcher.


The Ministry of Defense pays Norway’s share of the cost of interpretation services in Iraq into a fund administered by Germany. The Kurdish self-Governing administration is the employer, writes VG.

Colonel Lieutenant and Researcher Tormod Heier at the Norwegian Defense College believes that the payment solution is chosen to create a greater distances between the Norwegian authorities and the interpreters.

Local staff kept to a minimum

– This makes it less clear who actually is responsible for them. If there is a crystal clear employer responsibility between the two parties, it is easier to place responsibility, he says to VG.

Norway participates in the international coalition against IS in both Syria and Iraq. From May 2015 to March 2017, Norwegian soldiers were posted in Arbil in northern Iraq. Throughout the period in Arbil, they used Kurdish interpreters.

The Ministry of Defense introduced new guidelines for local staff in international operations in 2015. It was established that local staff should be “kept to a minimum”.


© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today