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contribution 35 - MPATSWENUMUGABO Alphonse

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Historical legacy - Issues of translation


transtlated version

Thank you, Chair. I would like to revisit what Francois Xavier said a while ago in respect of the genuine history of the genocide which will be written by the witness who testifies before the court. And this morning I did mention that in my paper, about working relations between the parties, namely, the Prosecution and the Defence. And, indeed, I would like to subscribe to the views espoused by François.

But, two, for the purpose of the legacy to be bequeathed by this Tribunal to the Rwandans we have to keep a record of testimonies borne by witnesses speaking Kinyarwanda. Those of us Kinyarwanda interpreters in the heat of the action, the witness speaks at the speed of light. There is some information of probative value applicable to the Defence and Prosecution which we are unable to interpret. And at the end of the day, we are at pain because we are unable to convey a piece of information on which the Defence and Prosecution would rely upon.

For instance, a witness who came and state upon a question to the effect that "Did you hear" or "did you see what the Interahamwe did?" In Kinyarwanda it was (Kinyarwanda spoken), which means in literal terms, the interpreter who is not aware of the context, because that context is hidden by the parties away from the interpreters, and that is the purport of my statement. The parties should make an effort to give us a draft of their presentations and the interpreter will say "I didn’t understand." But when in context the witness was saying "I was overwhelmed. It happened so fast that I was unable to see or hear what happened." But in my interpretation, I might say the exact contrary, which may be to the benefit or discredit of the Defence of Prosecution.

So it is important, as François-Xavier said, to fund the effort to keep a record of all what has been said in Kinyarwanda. This is what I wanted to say, thank you.


And it will be all the more important for historians who can only work on raw data and which are most faithful to reality. As speakers, we have Thomas Kamilindi, then Réné Degni-Ségui. So, Thomas Kamilindi first.