Resolution on Guidelines for communicating rights to non-native speakers of English in Australia, England and Wales, and the USA

April, 2016

Note: The Guidelines have been endorsed by the AAAL membership at the AAAL business meeting in April 2016. They have also been endorsed by the Australian Linguistics Society, the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL), the International Linguistic Association, by the Executive Committees of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) and the International Association of Forensic Linguistics (IAFL), by the Board of Trustees of the International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF) and by the Board of Directors of the international association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). AAAL is hosting this document as a service to the (Independent) Communication of Rights Group.

Whereas, the American Association for Applied Linguistics promotes principled approaches to language policy;

Whereas, non-native speakers of English cannot be assumed to understand the rights delivered to them in English, including the right not to incriminate oneself;

Whereas, it is crucial that their rights be delivered to them in the language they can understand;

Whereas, Guidelines for communicating rights to non-native speakers of English in Australia, England and Wales, and the USA were developed and finalized (October 2015) by the Communication of Rights Group, composed of twenty-one linguistic and legal experts (listed at the end of the Guidelines) from three countries (Australia, United Kingdom, and the United States of America);

Whereas, for the reasons outlined in the Guidelines, it is advised that

  • all jurisdictions develop standardized statements of suspect interview rights in
    Plain English and in other languages;
  • all jurisdictions adopt a restate-in-your-own words requirement as evidence of 
    understanding of rights;
  • all jurisdictions ensure that suspects who cannot demonstrate understanding of 
    their rights have access to a professional interpreter;

Whereas, endorsement of these Guidelines by appropriate professional associations should encourage jurisdictions to adopt the recommendations outlined in the Guidelines;

Therefore be it resolved at the general business meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics, convened on 11th day of April, 2016

  1. That the American Association for Applied Linguistics endorse these Guidelines;
  2. That the American Association for Applied Linguistics help to promulgate these Guidelines through its website, relevant publications, and professional meetings; and
  3. That the American Association for Applied Linguistics forward these Guidelines to l’Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée (AILA) to be considered for possible endorsement.