How can defendants be tried if they cannot understand the charges being raised against them? How can a witness testify if the judges and attorneys listening to the testimony cannot understand what the witness is saying? Can a judge decide whether to convict or acquit if she or he cannot read the documentary evidence? Can communities ravaged by war and longing for justice follow the work of the Tribunal if there are no indictments and judgements available to them in their languages? This may all sound obvious enough, yet the very viability of international criminal prosecution and adjudication hinges in no small part on the massive amounts of translation and interpreting that are required in order to run these lengthy, complex trials, and the procedures for handling the demands facing language services. This study explores the dynamic courtroom interactions in which witnesses testify—through an interpreter—about translations, attorneys argue— through an interpreter—about translations and the interpreting, and judges adjudicate on the interpreted testimony and translated evidence.


International Criminal Court Rome Statute Documentary Evidence International Criminal Tribunal Defence Counsel 
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Copyright information

© Ellen Elias-Bursać 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen Elias-Bursać
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent Scholar and Literary TranslatorUSA

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