Interlingual Research Grant Proposal, Esperantic Studies Foundation
Nancy Schweda Nicholson, Professor of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Legal Studies, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA
Proposal Title: “Linguistic Human Rights for Ethnic Minorities: Language Planning for Interpreting Services at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Implications for the International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as Future International Tribunals”
My proposed interdisciplinary research melds linguistics, the law and society. This study encompasses several timely subject areas, including: (1) language barriers and language use in international communication; (2) linguistic human rights in practice; and (3) language policy and planning in multinational judicial systems. The quality of interpreting services can affect the outcome of any criminal proceeding – defendants are released or sent to prison, some for the rest of their lives. The ICTY adjudicates cases involving some of the most heinous crimes committed against humanity - those related to ethnic cleansing and severe hatred of certain minorities. In similar fashion, the ICC (which will soon begin to hear its first cases) will work like the ICTY, but on a global scale. On the opposite end of the Atlantic, the US courts are faced with growing numbers of limited-English-proficient (LEP) speakers who require interpreting services in order to participate fully in their trials and/or testify as witnesses.
1. Qualifications: As a member of the Esperantic Studies Foundation Advisory Board and the Editorial Board of LPLP, my overall qualifications are already known to the ESF. I’ve been working in the area of language planning (LP) and policy development for interpreter services (primarily in the US and foreign courts) for over 20 years. For more detailed information, I’m attaching a copy of a Short CV as APPENDIX 2. (Please let me know if you would like to have a complete CV, and I will be happy to provide it.)
Of particular relevance to the proposed research is my recent experience (Fall, 2003) as an interpreter consultant and trainer during a course organized and sponsored by the Association of Defense Council (ADC), the ICTY, the T.M.C. Asser Institute and the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies at Leiden University in The Hague, December 11-14. The seminar brought together lawyers from all over the world who (1) are currently involved in a case before the ICTY; (2) would soon become involved in a new case; and/or (3) wished to become involved with an ICTY case. Although attorneys came from as far away as Australia and the US, the majority of the 18 participants were from Balkan countries. The goal of the seminar was to train lawyers from civil law systems in the techniques of direct and cross-examination so that they might effectively represent their clients before the ICTY (whose framework is primarily that of the common law system.) I was invited as a court interpreter expert and lectured on interpreting issues at the beginning of the course. For the remaining three days, I participated in small-group exercises and provided feedback on how best to work with interpreters. I also offered suggestions for improvement in attorneys’ question structure and helped to make them aware of the linguistic and extralinguistic challenges presented to the interpreters in this very special legal arena.
While in The Hague, I made several important contacts who would prove extremely useful in carrying out the proposed research. For example, I had the opportunity to meet with the Deputy Chief Interpreter as well as a Welfare Officer (who told me of the stresses of working as an interpreter in the field and his role in providing psychological counseling). I also spoke briefly with two freelance interpreters about their day-to-day work at the ICTY. I was able to observe for several hours in the Milosevic trial and see (as well as hear) firsthand the workings of the ICTY. It was clear to me that this is, indeed, a unique situation with special challenges in terms of interpreting in the booth, in the field, and in the prisons during pre-trial interviews. Also in terms of ICTY contacts, I spoke at New York University’s (NYU) 2nd International Translation Conference-- Global Security: Implications for Translation and Interpretation in June, 2004. An interpreter from the ICTY made a presentation in my session, and she would be an excellent contact in The Hague as well, especially in terms of putting me in touch with other interpreters and providing access to daily schedules and work-related administrative information.
As a follow-up to my work in The Hague, I was also invited to be part of another training course in Montreal from May 26-30, 2004. This 5-day session was sponsored by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the International Criminal Defense Attorney Association (ICDAA) in conjunction with the University of Montreal. “The Basic Course: Advocacy Training for the International Criminal Court (ICC)” included attorney trainers and 32 trainees from the US, Canada, Europe and, primarily, Africa. This time, lawyers were learning about not only the structure of this new international judicial body, but also about anticipated legal procedure and suggested strategies for practice before the ICC, which has not yet begun to hear cases. I again lectured on interpreting issues, how to work with interpreters and offered input during role-playing exercises. Additional new contacts were established in Montreal, notably the President of the International Criminal Bar and attorneys who are currently involved in the criminal tribunal in Rwanda. All in all, in a relatively short period of time, I have been able to build a resource network to assist me in my research. Quite honestly, I consider the ICTY and ICC experiences a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which I can build on through the proposed research project.
2. Research Problem: Based on my initial experience in The Hague, I would like to investigate in a more structured way the challenges of interpreting at the ICTY. I am particularly interested in the LP efforts that were undertaken at the outset and those which continue today. For example, the official languages of the ICTY are English and French. Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (or “BCS”, as it is commonly called at the Tribunal) figures prominently in many cases. Witnesses, however, may offer testimony in any language. From the start, there had always been 3 booths (as outlined above). When the Milosevic trial began, however, a fourth booth had to be added because many of the witnesses have testified in Albanian. As such, language planning activities are ongoing and new challenges frequently arise.
I am also very interested in the nuts and bolts of assembling the interpreter teams in the various required languages. In keeping with the idea of specific challenges, I want to learn from the interpreters themselves about the most important linguistic and procedural issues they confront. Essentially, the interpreting and LP communities know very little about what is transpiring at the ICTY. My goals are to describe these activities and critically examine their effectiveness with the aim of helping to forge policy at the ICC.
3. Proposed Research: I would like to return to The Hague and spend 2 weeks there. A multi-faceted approach to investigating interpreter issues and challenges at the ICTY will furnish an in-depth look at the workings of the Tribunal in this specialized domain. The study will describe the administrative structure in place for interpreter use (although my research has found nothing to date in this regard) and, at the same time, examine the real-world problems that arise in the course of interpreters’ day-to-day duties. Interpreter recruitment strategies and employee retention will also be a focus. This research project will ask the questions: Is the ICTY infrastructure working on a daily basis? If not, what changes need to be implemented in order to improve it, and how might the ICC benefit from this information? How do the interpreters themselves feel about their work – the stress, the linguistic challenges, and the institutional support they receive?
In order to answer these questions, I will work with the UD Statistical Laboratory to devise a survey instrument in order to gather data from ICTY and (ultimately) ICC interpreters. This questionnaire will request detailed background information and also use a Likert Scale to measure interpreters’ attitudes and beliefs about the work they do. The instrument I have in mind will also ask several open-ended questions in order to solicit additional information and examples of specific linguistic and extralinguistic challenges. My plan is to administer the questionnaire to about 10 ICTY interpreters as a pilot test during a trip that will be funded by my UD IRA. The survey’s structure as well as the data gathered will be reviewed and analyzed in order to develop a final instrument to be used in the current proposed larger study. In addition to employing the questionnaire, I also plan to interview a number of ICTY/ICC interpreters and learn firsthand about their individual experiences related to the provision of language services. Moreover, I would like to talk to a technology support person about the use of real-time English feed to monitors both in the booths and the courtroom itself. I will also observe the ongoing trials as often as possible while there, gathering additional information about the interpreters’ daily work.
A related area worthy of investigation is the Welfare Office at the ICTY. Although court interpreting is generally viewed as a stressful occupation, few judicial systems provide in-house treatment services. Welfare Officers furnish psychological counseling to all ICTY employees and deal with stress-related disorders. Interpreters must relive human rights abuses such as torture, imprisonment, and relocation trauma right along with those for whom they interpret. Moreover, interpreters who work in the field (in Bosnia-Herzegovina, for example) experience acute psychological as well as physical stress as they accompany investigators searching for victims and witnesses in that war-torn land. I had a brief interview with a Welfare Officer when I was in The Hague in December. I plan to speak with him again and obtain more details on the workings of his office, especially in terms of support provided to interpreters both in The Hague and in the field. Also, if such a unit is created at the ICC, it would be interesting to compare the workings and impact of both groups.
In sum, the purpose of this project is twofold: (1) to paint a true-to-life picture of the interpreters’ current work at the ICTY (highlighting its inherent challenges, issues, and rewards); and (2) to gather information from a variety of perspectives with the goal of making a contribution to the creation of a robust and workable framework for furnishing interpreting services at the newly-established ICC (including a Code of Ethics). Data compiled from all sources could then be compared and contrasted with similar situations in the US courts. The proposed work is significant because the provision of interpreter services at the ICTY and the ICC clearly impacts the preservation of due process/human rights among the accused, witnesses and/or victims. Those who take the witness stand must have their stories conveyed completely and accurately. The questions posed by the attorneys and judges must be interpreted in the same tone and register.
4. Expected Value: The international human rights and equal justice community in general will benefit from this research. Also on a broad scale, the study will inform professional court interpreter associations worldwide (of which there are many). Those involved in ongoing planning for interpretation services at the ICC as well as regional human rights tribunals will also be assisted by an awareness of the successes and failures of ICTY initiatives. Courts at both the State and Federal levels in the US will be able to learn from this research. It is anticipated that the project’s results will have direct effects on policy-making and shape future institutional rules in these domains.
Based on my own detailed research (completed in preparation for participation in the ADC/ICTY training course in The Hague), almost nothing has been written on interpreting at the ICTY. I found a brief article written by the former ICTY Chief Interpreter on the use of BCS. A law review article by Patricia Wald about her experiences as an ICTY judge mentions language issues only briefly (and solely from a non-expert perspective). There are some books about the ICTY, but these focus on the international legal aspects of the trials. Inasmuch as the ICC is still in a building stage prior to becoming fully operational, it does not surprise me that I have found nothing written about interpreting there with the exception of interpreter Vacancy Announcements. As a result, I see a real gap in the literature in terms of language planning for interpreting services at both the ICTY and the ICC. Moreover, these trials are history in the making (frequently compared to the Nuremberg Trials), and I believe this all-important communicative aspect merits additional research and attention. Of great interest to me is that the only book I have seen about interpreting at the Nuremberg Trials was published in 1998, approximately 50 years after the fact! Inasmuch as the ICTY will continue until 2010, there is sufficient time for me to conduct this research while the Tribunal is still in session. The ICC is just beginning, so now is the perfect moment to launch a research project that can grow along with this international judicial body. Conducting contemporaneous research will allow the capture of critical information that might be lost over time. It is clear that the ICTY and the ICC represent a complex interplay of political, cultural and historical factors, all of which are being played out on the world’s stage.
In addition to the descriptive aspect of my research, I believe that my work will make a significant contribution to successfully addressing evolving challenges in the ICC policy arena. Planners there can learn from both positive and negative ICTY experiences. For example, it appears that much was left to chance re: language issues in the formative stages of the ICTY. In fact, the former Chief Interpreter at the ICTY has informed me (via an e-mail interview) that, when the ICTY was created, there were no official provisions for language services. She built the current system from the ground up, recruiting interpreters and drafting a Code of Ethics which, surprisingly, was not adopted formally until 1998. It is assumed that the ICC will look to the experiences and history of the ICTY with the goal of improving and facilitating the delivery of interpreting services at the new Court. I hope to make a contribution on the normative side by (1) evaluating current ICTY policies in this area and (2) proposing the development of a standard framework that could be used in future similar legal bodies.
I will also continue to speak about my research at national and international conferences. (I have already given two speeches on my preliminary work in The Hague: one at the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators Annual Conference in Denver (May, 2004) and at the NYU Conference in June, 2004 (described in Section 1. Qualifications.))
5. Publication of Research Results: My ultimate goal is to write a monograph. A logical choice for this manuscript would be the University of Ottawa Press, as it published the book on interpreting at the Nuremberg Trials. I may also publish additional short articles on various aspects of my research.
6. How Proposed Research Will Relate to Past, Current and Future Work: As a researcher and instructor in the area of LP and policy development for judicial systems both in the US and abroad for more than 20 years, I have the background to conduct this study. My lengthy experience provides me with the knowledge necessary to decide which approaches and perspectives are appropriate in the examination of a new, yet related, area: other court systems.
My current work continues to focus on legislative initiatives as well as the delivery of court interpretation services and specifically examines if the laws on the books are being applied as written. I continue as a trainer/consultant for the DE and NJ Courts as well as the Indiana Supreme Court Commission on Racial and Gender Fairness (hereinafter “IN Commission”). I have been involved with the IN Commission as a consultant since it first began investigating the status of court interpretation services in the Hoosier State. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to participate as an advisor, guiding decision-making and assisting in policy formulation. My background has made me keenly aware of the problems faced by other states in this regard, so one of my responsibilities has been to advise the IN Commission to proceed in a way that will help to avoid costly mistakes as well as the reinvention of the wheel. Now that Indiana is in the early stages of implementing its testing and certification program as a member of the National Center for State Courts Testing Consortium, I have become a trainer there, offering 2-day orientation seminars to prospective court interpreters. My background affords me a good understanding of what steps are necessary to meld the theory and practice in a mutually beneficial way.
I also have an ongoing project on court cases that have been appealed because of interpreter issues (i.e., no interpreter appointed, uncertified interpreter selected when certified people readily available, poor interpretation, deliberate alteration of testimony/ proceedings, and so on).
While a Visiting Professor in Denmark, I gathered data from over 400 Danish university students regarding their attitudes toward/usage of American English in their everyday lives. After analysis assistance from the UD Statistical Lab, I am currently writing up the results.
In terms of the future, I will continue to investigate a variety of LP issues in the court interpreting domain. I am especially pleased to have this new connection with the ICTY and the ICC. It was extremely gratifying to work with the attorneys in The Hague and to open their eyes to the role of the interpreters as well as to the linguistic and extralinguistic challenges they face on a daily basis. Most recently, I have had an opportunity to provide the same elucidation to prospective ICC attorneys in Montreal. Building an awareness of language and interpretation issues among lawyers has as its overriding goals (1) the smooth functioning of the Court in this area and (2) the guarantee of due process rights and equal justice for linguistic and ethnic minorities.
Also in terms of future work, I have just been contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about plans to offer additional consecutive interpretation training courses for Language Specialists, an activity that I have been involved in since 1990. There is another, new program in the works as well. The Language Services Unit has been approached by instructors from the Academy at Quantico to prepare a module on Interviewing/Interrogation for inclusion in new Special Agent (SA) classes. This module would provide information about how to conduct an interview/interrogation through an interpreter. My FBI contact is excited about this possibility (as am I), as it would constitute ground-breaking work by reaching SAs in the formative stage and attune them to language issues before they go out into the field. Putting together such a component is yet another example of LP in the real world, and I fervently hope to be involved. (NOTE: A Request for Proposals (RFP) is currently being written, and there will be an open bidding process. I do, however, have a long history of working with the FBI in various capacities and hope that my experience in this regard will stand me in good stead.)
Finally, my research at the ICTY/ICC will also make a solid contribution in terms of enhancing global awareness among UD students and faculty. My intent is to incorporate a section on this study in both of my Linguistics (LING)/Legal Studies (LEST) courses (LING/LEST 385: “Language and the Law: Court Interpretation” and LING/LEST 390: “Language, Power and the Law”). Moreover, I teach LING 480/680: “Introduction to Sociolinguistics” once a year. LING 480/680 (a course which enrolls both advanced undergraduate and graduate students) is also a perfect venue for a section on this subject, as it examines language in society from a great variety of perspectives and frequently focuses on the plight of linguistic and ethnic minorities. It is also possible that I may develop a LING/LEST experimental course on the ICTY itself to include many other legal and linguistic issues in addition to interpreting.
7. Human and Institutional Resources Available: As a result of the time I spent in The Hague and Montreal, I already have a number of very important and useful contacts (as described in 1. Qualifications) who met with me briefly during the limited time I had. I know that I can count on them for additional information as part of a larger project. For example, Roelof Haveman (the Programme Director at the Grotius Centre) has already graciously agreed to allow me to use the Centre’s office space temporarily as well as to provide me with computer, telephone, and copier access during my time in The Hague. To summarize, I was able to establish ties in The Hague and Montreal that will serve as excellent ongoing resources and assist me tremendously in completing this study. At my home institution, I have access to all necessary support services. As also mentioned, I will be able to work with our excellent UD Statistical Laboratory (whose expert assistance I have received before).
8. Equipment, Supply, Service, Travel, etc.:
Travel to and from The Hague:
Transpo. to and from PHL Airport (Shuttle) $ 50.00
Airline Ticket (USAir quote 3/24/04) 1,040.80
Train from Schiopol Airport to The Hague 28.00
Lodging/Meals in The Hague: $272/day* x 14 days 3,808.00
(*US State Dept. rate as of 2/1/04)
Hospitality for Interview Subjects/Other Principals 500.00
Transportation in The Hague ($20/day x 14 days) 280.00
Local phone calls in The Hague (from hotel) 100.00
Support for the Grotius Centre for International Legal
Studies (Leiden Univ.) - copying, some local phone
calls, computer use for e-mail, office space 250.00
UD Statistical Laboratory Assistance with Revisions/
Analysis of Survey 1,000.00
Professional Fee for 50 interpreters to complete the Survey
(20 Euros/person) 1,200.00
= approx. $1,200 US
Indirect Costs 2,000.00
GRAND TOTAL $10,256.80
AMOUNT REQUESTED FROM ESF: $10,000.00
All of the above costs are pretty much self-explanatory, but I would like to include some elaboration for certain line items.
--The airline ticket price is quoted from the US Airways website for a trip to Amsterdam during the summer (high season). I priced a trip from July 10-24, 2004.
--I have already been on the train from the Amsterdam Airport to The Hague, so I know this cost for sure.
--I have used the State Dept. rate for per diem. My experience in The Hague demonstrated that food and lodging are very expensive.
--As far as the Hospitality expense, I believe it is a nice gesture to thank people who have provided especially helpful assistance as interview subjects, guides around the courts, and so on. The amount of $500 would allow me to take some colleagues to lunch and dinner during my stay. (My meals, of course, are already included in the per diem rate quoted as another line item.)
--Transportation in The Hague involves taking the tram, buses and cabs. Based on my experience there, I can take the tram quite frequently. Cabs, in particular, however, are quite expensive, and I may need to travel this way if I have to go to a place that is not located near public transportation or in the evening hours.
--Phone calls are also quite expensive there, especially from hotels. I will need to communicate with interview subjects to set dates and times as well as reconfirm.
--The Grotius Centre is only a five-minute walk from the hotel where I would plan to stay. (The ADC/ICTY Training Course was held there.) I will need access to copying facilities and a computer while in The Hague, and the Centre is the logical choice for this. I already know several of the people who work there, and I am acquainted with its set-up. The Director, Roelof Haveman, has graciously agreed to offer me the use of his facilities.
--The Statistical Laboratory’s assistance includes refinement of the survey after the pilot test, testing of a larger sample, analysis of these results, and funding for limited graduate student assistance.
--Based on my experience working with interpreters, they can be prima donnas. In a prior research project, some interpreters refused to participate unless they were paid. Since I had not incorporated funds for this purpose into the grant proposal, my hands were tied. I learned a lesson from this experience, so this is why I feel the fee is justified.
9. Minimum Amount of Direct Support Needed/Proposed Payment Schedule:
$10,000* to be paid following the terms outlined in the IRG Guidelines:
$3,500 at the beginning of the funding period;
$3,500 just before I leave for The Hague;
$3,000 after a satisfactory final report is submitted
*The $2,000 for indirect costs could be included at the beginning or the end of the grant.
10. Time Period: I am requesting fifteen months of support, to begin June 1, 2005 and continue through August 31, 2006. My UD IRA provides funding until June 30, 2005, so these dates include a slight overlap. I can be somewhat flexible about the start date of the proposed schedule. Inasmuch as travel to The Hague is a requirement because of the project’s nature, my teaching responsibilities restrict the times when I would be able to spend an extended period there. With two summers included, I have the option of returning once again, if necessary. The additional summer also provides more non-teaching time when I can work on analysis, conduct additional research (which may not require my presence in The Hague), and write up my results. Released time re: teaching does not figure into this proposal because UD requires a substantial amount to “buy out” of courses ($19,000 for one of my classes, for example, per our Chair).
If my application is funded by the ESF, I would plan to do the preparatory work (final survey development, etc.) during the Spring 2005 semester and then conduct the research during Summer, 2005. I would also do the analysis and some writing during that summer. I am certain, however, that I will need a longer period for these activities. I also wish to leave the door open for a return trip early during the summer of 2006. Realistically, I am requesting the fifteen months in order to ensure that I will have sufficient time to complete the project.
11. Indirect Support: After discussing this matter with the Linguistics Chair who, in turn, consulted with our Dean’s Office, I am requesting $2,000 in indirect costs.
12. References re: Research
(a) William Idsardi, Chair
Department of Linguistics
46 E. Delaware Ave.
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716-2551
Phone: (302) 831-6806
(b) William J. Frawley, Dean
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
Professor of Anthropology and Psychology
The George Washington University
801 22nd Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
Phone: (202) 994-6130
(c) Virginia Benmaman, Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Director, Master of Arts Program in Bilingual Legal Interpreting
College of Charleston
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: (843) 953-4947
Additional Background Information
This attachment presents additional relevant background information on the problems, challenges and current situation.
When the ICTY was established in 1993, Rule 3 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence stated that “[t]he working languages of the Tribunal shall be English and French.” Other languages were never mentioned by name; however, Section (B) of Rule 3 stipulated that “[a]n accused shall have the right to use his or her own language”, and Section (C) addressed the right of all other people appearing before the Tribunal (witnesses, victims, and so on) --with the exception of counsel-- to use their own language as well “…if they do not have sufficient knowledge of either of the two working languages….” In reality, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (or BCS, as it is called at the Tribunal) is used almost every day during witness testimony. Moreover, Albanian has figured prominently in the Milosevic trial, so a fourth language has been added. It should also be mentioned that BCS and Albanian are not traditional conference languages worldwide, so recruitment efforts focused on interpreters from NGOs operating in the former Yugoslavia and other Balkan states.
In terms of the ICC, Article 50: “Official and working languages” of the Rome Statute (1998) states: “(1) The official languages of the Court shall be Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The judgements of the Court, as well as other decisions resolving fundamental issues before the Court, shall be published in the official languages.” (It is interesting to note that the six official languages of the ICC are also the official languages of the United Nations. Moreover, these six are the major conference languages of the world, with the exception of German and Japanese, which also figure prominently. What is also of interest to me is that the ICTY is officially affiliated with the UN; on the other hand, however, the ICC has no formal association with the UN, yet it has chosen its languages to be its own). Section (2) of the same Article addresses “working languages”, indicating that they will be English and French. (The reader notes that the concept of “official” vs. “working” languages is not treated in ICTY documents.) At this point, it is important to distinguish between these two types of languages in the context of an international organization. For example, at the UN, General Assembly speeches are interpreted from and into all of the six official languages. Much of the day-to-day committee work, however, is conducted in either English or French, and interpretation services are provided in those two languages only. Put succinctly, official languages are those that can be used (but are not always used), and working languages are the mainstays of the organization’s daily operations.
Although not stated in exactly the same way as in the ICTY Rules, the ICC also makes provisions for languages other than the official ones to be used in Section (3) of Article 50: “At the request of any party to a proceeding or a State allowed to intervene in a proceeding, the Court shall authorize a language other than English or French to be used by such a party or State, provided that the Court considers such authorization to be adequately justified.” Here, the difference between official and working languages is highlighted, as the writers of the Statute indicate that they expect to use primarily English and French in the courtroom. Section (3), of course, leaves the door open for any language to be used (even beyond the six official languages), as it does not include or exclude any language by name. This statement is essentially parallel to Sections (B) and (C) of the ICTY Rules of Procedure and Evidence. One important contrast, however, is that, at the ICTY, counsel must speak either English or French; no such stipulation appears in the ICC Statute. In fact, the wording of the ICC’s Section (3) does not refer to the other four official languages by name. Possibly, therefore, an attorney may not be limited to using even one of the official ICC languages before the Court. As a result, the language of the ICTY is tighter and more precise. Once the ICC begins hearing cases, language choices for counsel may well evolve.
Job vacancy announcements stipulate the required background for interpreters hired to work at the ICTY/ICC, but I have not located formal ICTY-/ICC-specific documents that outline these requirements. No current job vacancy announcements for interpreters at the ICTY appear on its website. A position for a Conference Interpreter - English on the ICC website** (www.icc-cpi.int/php/jobs/vacature_details.php?id=178) lists detailed Duties and Responsibilities as well as Competence and Skills. The latter includes: “some degree of specialization in topics dealt with by the Court, namely legal, political economic, financial, military, medical and forensic.” Noticeably absent, however, is the requirement that interpreters have experience working in the courts per se. Apparently, conference interpreters are being recruited because of the use of the simultaneous (SI) mode of interpretation. In other words, emphasis is being placed on the ability to do SI rather than on familiarity with the stringent requirements of a legal setting. This is why my colleague offered courses for the interpreters at the outset of the ICTY. Orientation to working in the courts is absolutely necessary. Whereas conference interpreters are highly skilled at SI, they may not know about the critical differences between conference and courtroom work. For example, in a conference setting, interpreters have a lot of freedom in terms of omitting redundancies and information they deem to be superfluous to the focus of the message/presentation. (Some of these omissions are simply due to time constraints inherent in the mode and/or may be related to a speaker’s fast delivery speed.) Moreover, conference interpreters are accustomed to omitting false starts and repetitions, usually don’t interpret linguistic fillers like “um”, “er”, don’t maintain pause length, and may even complete a sentence for a speaker or restructure it to make it more comprehensible, all with the goal of creating a smooth flow of information to the listener. The aforementioned strategies/techniques are unacceptable in a courtroom setting with its requirement of strict accuracy.
SI is also being used at the ICTY because of the number of languages required on a daily basis. According to my sources, fully 90% of all witnesses testify in BCS. In the US (and in most courts of law worldwide), consecutive interpretation (CI) is used quite consistently for witness testimony. To be more specific, CI involves the following: The interpreter is positioned next to the witness at the stand. The attorney asks a question, for example, in English. After the lawyer is finished asking his/her question, the interpreter turns to the witness and interprets it into Spanish, for example. The witness then responds in Spanish, and the interpreter interprets the response into English for the court. Also important to note here is that the two languages are used interchangeably/on a back and forth basis and with no overlap in open court, so it is much easier for a person skilled in both languages to check for completeness and accuracy. It is much more difficult to monitor SI in this way. CI is widely held to be more accurate because interpretation follows what has been said rather than occurs simultaneously. On the other hand, CI presents additional specific challenges to the interpreter. Consecutive interpreters are trained in note-taking skills, as one’s short term memory is often unable to preserve the content/form of a long question/answer with the precision required in the courts. Since they appear in open court along with the attorneys, judges, accused, and other courtroom personnel, consecutive interpreters must have a strong voice and excellent public speaking skills. In contrast, simultaneous interpreters are isolated in booths, so these individuals are not easily visible to the courtroom principals.
As they work almost exclusively in SI, many conference interpreters do not know how to do CI. (Providing CI is listed as one of the Duties and Responsibilities in the aforementioned ICC vacancy announcement.) CI is needed, however, at the ICTY (and will be needed at the ICC), most particularly for all pre-trial activity requiring language services, such as the defense attorney meeting with the accused in prison, taking depositions from witnesses who are unable to appear in person, and so on. In addition, interpreters are needed in the field to accompany investigators to Bosnia-Herzegovina and many other parts of the world as they seek out victims and witnesses to human rights violations who are then brought to The Hague to testify. Inasmuch as many people from the former Yugoslavia have been relocated to the far reaches of the world, there have even been missions to places as far away as Malaysia, for example. All of the aforementioned activities require the use of CI.
In terms of the ICC, America’s role has swung like a pendulum. The Rome Statute (which the US was instrumental in writing) was signed by President Clinton on December 31, 2000. President Bush and his Administration, however, have decided that they will not ratify it. Whether or not this position will change over time remains an unanswered question.
Several serious consequences may result if the proposed research does not go forward: (1) the lessons of the past (at the ICTY, in particular) might not be learned by those individuals currently involved at the ICC; (2) the wheel may continue to be invented over and over again if a much-needed central model is not put into place, not only for the ICC, but for other tribunals in the future; and (3) fundamental due process rights may not be preserved and equal justice may not be rendered.
**I found this listing on the ICC website in March, 2004. When I went back to check it again today, it was no longer there because the closing date had passed. In fact, there are currently no ICTY or ICC interpreter vacancy announcements on either website.
In the past 8 months, I have looked at a number of these position descriptions. The wording and requirements are almost identical in all of them. As a result, the information presented here is representative of advertisements for interpreters at these organizations.
Nancy L. Schweda-Nicholson
Nancy L. Schweda-Nicholson earned her B.A. With Distinction in Spanish and French at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1973. She was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa that same year. Prof. Nicholson continued her studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where she received her M.S. in French and Linguistics in 1976 and her Ph.D. With Distinction, also in French and Linguistics, in 1979.
She joined the faculty of the University of Delaware in 1979 and was named Director of the Conference Interpretation Program in 1981. Dr. Nicholson was tenured in 1987 and promoted to Professor in 1995. As a result of her significant contributions to the field of court interpretation and her new course development, she accepted a Secondary Faculty Appointment in the Legal Studies Program in 2001.
Prof. Nicholson took a leave of absence from 1987-89 to serve as the first permanent Director of the Center for Interpretation and Translation at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
She has been an active interpretation researcher and trainer since 1981. Selected career highlights include: (1) appointment to the Federal Court Interpreters Advisory Board by the Honorable William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States; (2) interpretation consultant and trainer for numerous organizations such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the Federal Judicial Center (FJC), the Administrative Office (AO) of the US Courts, the AO of the Delaware and New Jersey Courts, the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT), the National Center for State Courts, and the Indiana Supreme Court Commission on Race and Gender Fairness; (3) publication of over 35 articles on interpreter theory, training and language planning for court interpretation services, including many invited contributions; (4) frequent speaker at national and international conferences, with over 85 papers delivered. Invited to speak/teach in China, England, Finland, Japan, Denmark, Sweden, and Mexico; (5) Fulbright Scholar Award recipient in 1995 – Aarhus School of Business, Denmark; (6) member of the Editorial Board of the international journal, Language Problems and Language Planning, and the Advisory Board of the Esperantic Studies Foundation; (7) Fellow of the Salzburg Seminar, 1999: “Race and Ethnicity: Social Change through Public Awareness.”
(NOTE: Detailed information on Prof. Nicholson’s involvement with the ICTY and the ICC is included in Sections 1 and 6 of the current proposal.)
In a cooperative effort linking the UD Department of Linguistics and the Legal Studies Program, Dr. Nicholson has developed and taught two new courses since 2000. ”Language and Law: Court Interpretation” focuses on linguistic challenges, language planning and public policy development. ”Language, Power and the Law” examines the power of language and treats topics such as forensic linguistics, the language of mediation, advertising fraud, pleas for leniency in sentencing, linguistic human rights, due process and many others. These classes were approved as permanent offerings in Fall 2002. In May, 2003, Prof. Nicholson was elected to the Executive Committee of the Legal Studies Program.
On April 8, 2004, Dr. Nicholson was a faculty member for a Delaware State Bar Association (DSBA) Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminar in Wilmington entitled “The Importance of Court Interpreters”. This program brought together approximately 100 attorneys, judges, court administrators and other courtroom personnel. Participants learned about the role of the court interpreter, interpreter ethics, how to voir dire an interpreter and the modes of interpretation used in the courts as well as linguistic and legal code challenges. This CLE is the first ever course on this subject for legal personnel in Delaware.
Prof. Nicholson has been invited to participate in a one-day forum, “The Language of Justice”, sponsored by the US Department of Justice, to be held in Washington, D.C. on September 21, 2004. This meeting will bring together individuals who are involved in language education as well as interpretation and translation training efforts throughout the country.