Last Friday, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Conference and Language Services Section (CLSS) received the 2017 Hieronymus Prize in Erfurt, Germany. The award ceremony was part of events honouring United Nations International Translation Day, which was celebrated for the first time on 30 September.
The prestigious annual Prize was awarded to the ICTY for its exemplary achievements in multilingual communication by the German Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer, or BDÜ), one of the industry’s largest and most respected professional associations.
In bestowing the Hieronymus Prize, BDÜ’s jury recognised the outstanding performance of the ICTY CLSS in demanding multilingual and high-profile international judicial proceedings. Over the Tribunal’s 24 years, CLSS translated one million pages and delivered nearly 80,000 interpreter days - a recent analysis found a 98% accuracy rate in simultaneous interpretation. From translating the most excruciating forensic details in autopsy reports, to lending their voices to both victims and the accused in the courtroom, their work has been exceptionally diverse.
In his remarks accepting the Prize on behalf of the Tribunal, Registrar John Hocking paid tribute to the ICTY’s language staff, who have “been instrumental for the delivery of justice for war crimes.” He recalled that many come from areas that witnessed the brutality of the wars in the former Yugoslavia and stated that “they have remained impartial, they have preserved utmost professional integrity. When I am asked if they have bias, I respond: yes, they have bias for justice.”
Maja Ružić, the Chief of CLSS, expressed her gratitude for BDÜ’s recognition of the accomplishments of the ICTY’s language services, which numbered some 150 colleagues during the peak of the Tribunal’s activity. She highlighted how the work of an interpreter or translator at the Tribunal is often emotionally distressing, but that it is also fulfilling to contribute to justice being done.
The Hieronymus Prize is named for the patron saint of translators, also known in English as St. Jerome.