The Mau Mau case involving compensation for 44,000 Kenyans tortured in the 1950s while the country was under colonial rule looks like it could be interesting from a legal translation viewpoint.On 22.5.2016 the Guardian ran a headline saying “Government lawyers expected to make a last-minute application to delay case over translation dispute”.
Today (25.5.2016) the same paper reported that that application to delay proceedings over how the witness statements were obtained has been withdrawn, but the government’s legal team told the court that, “As this litigation has progressed, the [government] has become more and more troubled by the way the claimants’ evidence has been produced. There’s a risk that the test case evidence has been irremediably tainted by the way they were [questioned]. The translation process may have resulted in written accounts which may not represent the claimant’s evidence in their own words. Many of claimants are elderly as well as “physically and mentally infirm”, he added. “They are vulnerable witnesses and many do not speak English … If the claimant’s written evidence has been tainted then it will not be possible for justice to be done.”
The case is expected to run for some time. It will be interesting to see what arguments are raised over the days and months to come concerning the translations of witness testimony in this case.