The impact of language diversity on the right to fair trial in international criminal proceedings

Namakula, Catherine Stella
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The Impact of Language Diversity on the Right to Fair Trial in International Criminal Proceedings is a study that explores the influence of the dynamic factor of language on fair trial at the international level and during domestic prosecution of international crimes. Chapter 5 constitutes a case study of the International Crimes Division of the High Court of Uganda, a contemporary specialised ‗court‘ emerging within the framework of the statute of the International Criminal Court, by virtue of the principle of complementarity. By way of empirical research, interviewing and jurisprudential analysis, It is sought to assess the implications of conducting a trial in more than one language, on due process. This thesis reveals that the language debate is as old as international criminal justice, but due to misrepresentation of the status of language fair trial rights in international law, the debate has not yielded concrete reforms. Language is the core foundation for justice. It is the means through which the rights of the accused are realised. Linguistic complexities such as misunderstandings, failures in translation and cultural distance among participants in international criminal trials affect courtroom communication, the presentation and the perception of the evidence hence challenging the foundations of trial fairness. In conclusion, language fair trial rights are priority rights situated in the minimum guarantees of fair criminal trial; the obligation of the court to ensure fair trial or accord the accused person a fair hearing comprises the duty to guarantee linguistic rights. This thesis also entails recommendations on how to address the phenomenon.
Language, Diversity, Fair trial, Criminal procedure, Uganda