Press release -
When Going Cheap becomes Expensive - Quality in Language Analysis under Fire
Yet again the delicate balance between quality and price in public procurement has come under fire—and yet again the target is language analysis. This time the attack comes in an article in Swedish newspaper SvD, written by investigator Sven E Hammarberg and cowriters engaged in different fields, which claims that the testing of Yezidi asylum seekers exposes the shortcomings of language analysis.
But what is not mentioned in SvD’s otherwise solidly argued exposé is that analyses of an alleged ‘Yezidi dialect’ have never been carried out by Verified, the current supplier of language analysis to the Swedish Migration Agency.
‘Verified has categorically declined to carry out analyses on the “Yezidi dialect”, (prof Östen Dahl) on the grounds that there are no reliable data, peer-reviewed or not,’ responded Roderick Martin, senior advisor at Verified. ‘This fact prompted us to plan a fact-finding field trip, but the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the areas of interest forced us to put our plans on hold’, he continued.
Verified’s refusal to conduct analysis in the absence of good quality and up-to-date data is in tune with developments at the Swedish Migration Agency. In addition to the growth effected in its organisation and operations in the past year or two, the agency has simultaneously brought language analysis under closer control and demanded greater rigour in the way it is carried out.
‘With the quality criteria stipulated in the recent public tender, language analysis of Yezidi asylum seekers in the form administered by the previous principal supplier would not have been acceptable to the agency. It is obvious that the agency has set its mind on having language analysis conform to scientific standards,’ said Mr Martin.
It may well be the case that prior language analysis practices have incurred a cost to the public purse and asylum seekers alike. The question now, a change of supplier having occurred, is: is damage control required?
Verified will assist
‘It is important to keep in mind that, around the world, you will find people sharing a single language living in an area straddling national borders. The cases at hand concern the Yezidi. They are spread over a vast area overlapping with several countries, including Syria and Armenia. This complicates the assessment of origin’ said Helene Hedebris of the Swedish Migration Agency.
It is sad that there are so many asylum seekers, and it is naturally less than ideal that the asylum applications of some get mired in Swedish bureaucracy. But the reality is that the pressure is ever-mounting and that a choice must be made between two alternatives, neither of them desirable.
‘We have no reason to believe that the migration agency will resolve currently pending asylum claims on the basis of old and deficient language analysis; neither do we believe that the agency will refrain from commissioning reanalysis of such reports if reanalyses were found to be of assistance in assessing asylum applications. If reanalysis were found to be of assistance in the assessment of existing applications for asylum, Verified is here to help. Equally, however, if in Verified’s judgment language analysis would not assist in a given instance, we are prepared to argue exactly why it would not,” Mr Martin said.
For further information, please contact:
Per Lunqe, Press Officer
+46 735 106010
Verified provides expert testimony regarding linguistic behaviour, in particular relating to an individual´s linguistic background. These services are required by police, migration authorities and immigration attorneys for trials in court. We also assist non governmental organisations.