Thursday, February 12, 2009

Language & Peace: Post-Conflict Courts

     Ellen Emilie Stensrud of Norway writes in the latest issue of the Journal of Conflict Research (Vol 46(1), Jan 2009) on the Cambodian and Sierra Leonean Special Courts set up under the auspices of the United Nations to try people for the Pol Pot era and Civil War years, respectively.  The general conclusion of the article is that the Sierra Leonean trials were not doing much for the local judiciary, because most of the court were foreigners, while in Cambodia, most of the Judges were locals, and beholden to the new Government of Cambodia (which contains some people who were, at some points, members of the Khmer Rouge) and thus illegitimate.

     In private communication, Ms. Stensrud tells me that the Courts have been greatly hampered in Cambodia because all court proceedings are published in English, French and Khmer, a large cost and cause of delay, as qualified translators are rare.  Although Sierra Leone courts are mostly in English, there are many witnesses who do not speak English.

     Thanks to the Journal of Conflict Research and Ms. Stensrud!

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