By Youk Chhang
When the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its judgment on the Preah Vihear temple on Monday, “Cambodia Awarded Land Around Preah Vihear,” (November 12) the judgment was published far and wide across the Internet and broadcast around the world, but in Cambodia, had it not been for the work of four translators on the Cambodian News Channel, many Cambodians might not have been able to hear the details of the ICJ’s decision.
Laws are only valid insofar as they are understood; human rights are only as empowering as they are enforced in the local language; and international news is only as relevant as it is translated to the common people.
Pulling back the curtain, one will notice that all four translators were products of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).
The ECCC has had its share of troubles, shortcomings and controversies, but it is important to give credit where it is due. The ECCC has provided critical training and experience to many Cambodians, and it is through this experience that the four translators were able to work with such skill and confidence.
In a court, one’s eyes are immediately drawn to the judges, lawyers and legal officers tasked with upholding the rule of law. But we should not forget all of the other staff who play a critical role.
Youk Chhang, director, Documentation Center of Cambodia
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