Friday, April 21, 2006

Protester charged with harassing Chinese leader

Journalist Wang could face up to six months in prison

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal charges were filed Friday against a heckler who interrupted an otherwise highly scripted ceremony welcoming Chinese President Hu Jintao to the White House the day before, berating him for the persecution of the Chinese religious sect Falun Gong.

Wen Yi Wang, 47, was charged with harassing a foreign official, a federal misdemeanor punishable by six months in prison and a fine of $5,000.

The federal law is designed to protect foreign dignitaries and official guests, and prohibits attempts to "intimidate, threaten, coerce or harass a foreign official or an official guest or obstruct a foreign official in the performance of his duties." (Watch as Wang pleads for help from "all kind people" to help the Falun Gong -- 1:01)

Wang appeared Friday before Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson in Washington, and a preliminary hearing was set for May 3. She was freed on her own recognizance, but was ordered to stay away from the White House. (View the charge against Wang -- PDF)

After her court appearance, Wang said she had not committed a crime, only an act of "civil disobedience."

Wang, a physician and Falun Gong practitioner, said in a later interview with CNN that she didn't regret her action and that she would do it again if given a chance.

"I just wanted him to know what Falun Gong practitioners think," she said of Hu, adding that though she knew her conduct was prohibited, "saving the people was more important."

Wang is a naturalized U.S. citizen who works as a journalist for the Epoch Times. She had a one-day press pass that gave her access to a photographers' platform at the ceremony.

A probable-cause statement filed in U.S. District Court said Wang "began to yell at President Hu in a loud voice for in excess of two minutes" as he was speaking.

"The defendant was frantically waving a yellow banner in the direction of President Hu, which read 'Falun Dafa is good' and also included writing in Chinese," the documents said. Falun Dafa is another name for Falun Gong.

An interpreter translated Wang's statements to Hu as, "Stop oppressing the Falun Gong," "Your time is running out," and "Anything you have done will come back to you in this lifetime," court documents said. (Watch Wang heckle Hu during a White House ceremony -- 1:33)

Wang then began to yell at President Bush, according to the documents, partly in English and partly in Chinese, saying, "President Bush, stop him from killing. President Bush, stop him from persecuting Falun Gong."

A cameraman standing near Wang pulled the banner from her hands and put his hand over her mouth, and the U.S. Secret Service escorted her from the platform. (Watch as Wang talks about why she disrupted the ceremony and why she'd do it again -- 4:12)

Terri Wu, an assistant to the editor in chief of the Epoch Times, said Thursday that Wang has worked for the newspaper for a few years. Because she has a medical background, she wrote articles on issues like bird flu and organ harvesting, Wu said.

Wu said the newspaper was "not aware" Wang planned to disrupt the ceremony.

"This was unexpected," Wu said.

"We have formally contacted the State Department and the White House press office to extend our apologies," Wu said. "We do not approve of this action, and we did not know about this action beforehand."

I clubbed people dead says witness

The Luo interpreter in Col. Kizza Besigye’s treason trial broke down in court yesterday, when the witness told court of the atrocities he was involved in as an LRA rebel.

George Abedo, the second prosecution witness, said during cross-examination that he participated in massacring people when he was in the LRA.
He said he clubbed his victims to death.

The interpreter, Agnes Julian Ocitti, broke down and wrote to the DPP asking the court for permission to allow her step down, saying she could not continue.

Ocitti wept and brought out a handkerchief to wipe away her tears. Byabakama Mugenyi tried to comfort her, holding her on the shoulder.

Attempts at persuading her to tell the court what happened failed, until Justice Vincent Kagaba adjourned and took her to his chambers, along with lawyers on both sides to hear what happened to her.

Ocitti said in a low voice, “I can only share why I cannot continue on condition that it does not appear in the papers.”

Kagaba announced, “Our interpreter has broken down emotionally. i adjourn for thirty minutes.”

Abedo, who told the court that he became a committed Christian (born-again) in 2003 while at Kigo Prison, agreed with David Mpanga’s question that he came to Kampala for Besigye’s meeting in 2001 “to spread the gospel of terrorism” as an LRA representative.

“You came on LRA business? This is the LRA that chops off people’s lips in the north, chopped off people’s buttocks? The people you say you represented at that meeting, are they the ones who chopped people up and piled the body parts like firewood?” Mpanga asked, to which Abedo replied, “They are the same people.”

Mpanga asked him again if they are the same LRA which “massacred villages upon villages and when they are good they only rape women” and Abedo said “they are the exact people.”

Asked whether he came to Kampala as a butcher of people, he said yes. He said he killed a number of people he could not remember, thought they were less than 10.

He said he committed the killings around Palaro areas.

Asked how he killed them, he said, “I clubbed them in the heads to death.”

At that point, Ocitti, who had been interpreting, wrote to the DPP who was seated near her.

Byabakama stood up and told the court that the interpreter was requesting for permission to step down because she could not continue interpreting the testimony.

Earlier, Abedo had denied assertions by Mpanga that he was a member of the Uganda People’s Democratic Army (UPDA) rebels before joining Alice Lakwena’s Holy Spirit Movement and finally Joseph Kony’s LRA.

Mpanga said Abedo was an altar boy in Lakwena’s Movement, but he denied involvement in both UPDA and Lakwena’s groups.

Mpanga told him that he only went back home after Lakwena’s serious defeat by the Government soldiers, the then National resistance Arrmy (NRA), at a place called Amaka, but Obedo said that was not true.

Mpanga said Abedo bid his time after that and then willingly joined Kony’s LRA of his own accord.
Abedo, however, denied that and said he did not join Kony willingly.
He said he was first abducted and forcibly conscripted but later he went back on his own because he had liked it.

Besigye and his co-accused watched the entire incident in silence.

Later, the court found another interpreter.

This article can be found on-line at:

Ellen Kuzwayo, Anti-Apartheid Crusader, Dies at 91

Ellen Kuzwayo, the lone woman and the least flashy of the founders of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and a quiet moral force throughout the rise of the African National Congress from outlaw movement to governing party, died Wednesday in Johannesburg. She was 91.

The cause was complications of diabetes, her son Bobo told The South African Press Association.

Along with playing a role in fighting white oppression, Ms. Kuzwayo was also an early leader of the struggle of African women for equality with their men.

Her 1985 autobiography, "Call Me Woman," described her beatings by her first husband and her loss of their children to him when they separated, because by law and tradition she was a minor. With it, she became the first black writer to win South Africa's premier literary prize, the CNA Award.

After Nelson Mandela's inauguration as president in 1994, she became, at the age of 79, a member of the first multiracial Parliament and served for five years.

At her death, Ms. Kuzwayo still lived in Soweto, the vast, isolated satellite city of tiny tract homes and jammed squatter camps a few miles from Johannesburg, a product of the determination of South Africa's white rulers to eject from their midst all blacks not employed as their domestic servants.

After the 1976 Soweto riots, set off by police shootings of schoolchildren protesting the forced change to the Afrikaans language in class, Ms. Kuzwayo became the lone woman on the Committee of 10, which informally governed the township when residents resisted paying rent to the despised Urban Bantu Council, appointed by the white government.

As a result, she was imprisoned without charge for five months in 1977.

In her 1996 testimony to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated apartheid-era crimes, she described her predawn arrest, hiding in the bathroom trying to bathe and dress as police horses trampled her yard, and instructing Bobo, then a teenager, to keep a sharp eye out so that the police did not plant evidence as they searched.

She later helped establish the Urban Foundation, which pressed the government to let blacks own their houses, and she was a longtime adviser of the Zamani Soweto Sisters Council, the umbrella body for women's self-help groups; the first president of the Black Consumer Union; and the general secretary of the Y.W.C.A.

Ms. Kuzwayo, whose name before her marriage was Nnoseng Ellen Serasengwe, was born June 29, 1914, in the Orange Free State, an Afrikaner-dominated farming region, into a family of ministers and teachers; her maternal grandfather graduated from a missionary college in 1879 and had been the headmaster of a multiracial boys school and a court interpreter.

At 22, she began attending local African National Congress conferences with her father.

She later inherited the 6,000-acre farm owned by her mother's family, but lost it in the 1970's when the area was rezoned for white ownership only.

In the 1940's, she joined Mr. Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and others in forming the breakaway African National Congress Youth League, a more militant offshoot of the Congress, and served as its secretary. Mr. Mandela later formed its armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation. He was convicted in 1964 on charges of treason and sabotage and imprisoned until 1990.

She became a teacher in 1938, but quit the profession in 1952 when the Native Education laws were supplanted by the Bantu Education Act, and missionary schools were closed.

"I did not have the strength nor the courage to teach the children of my community what appeared to be very poisonous to their minds," she said later. "The National Party gave them an inferior education so those children were going to remain the slaves of white people."

She became a social worker, eventually becoming a revered figure in Soweto, known as Ma K, giving advice to women's groups, churches and schools and earning a salary from the social work department of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Besides her son Bobo, she is survived by another son, Justice; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

One of her most common laments was the lasting damage that apartheid and the violent fight against it had done to South Africa's children. The film "Tsotsi," which won an Oscar as best foreign film this year, vividly shows the lives of young thugs on the Soweto-Johannesburg trains, and in 1996, Ms. Kuzwayo described to the truth commission the changes she had seen in young men like them.

In her early days as a social

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

SC, HC Judges To Be Addressed As "Your Honour"

The Bar Council of India vide resolution dated April 8 2006 has decided that the judges of Supreme Court and High Court will be addressed as "Your Honour" instead of "My Lord" or "Your Lordship" as such system of addressing is a hangover of the colonial past.

So far as subordinate court and tribunals are concerned it is open to the lawyers to address the court as "Sir" or the equivalent word in respective regional language.

The Bar Coucil of India rule under section 49 (1) (j) is to be circulated to all the state bar councils with the request to circulate the same to all the bar associations in their state and to the courts.

The latter shall also be sent to the Supreme Court bar association, Registrar General of the Supreme Court of India and to the registrars of all the High Courts.

It may be noticed that the full Supreme Court had in 1993 resolved that it is for the Bar Council to decide the form of address to the courts and expressed thanks to the Bar Council of India that it was conscious of its obligations to be respectful and dignified in its attitude towards the bench.

Early this year a bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal while dismissing as withdrawn a PIL filed by the progressive and vigilant lawyers forum had also expressed the same view that it was for the lawyers community to decide whether they want to change the system of addressing the court in India and court has nothing to do with it.


A place for self expression

Dear Interpreter and Translator:

Have you ever come against one of those challenging moments when you might want to “slap” a person or yourself? This is the venue for you! Tell us about the bloopers, Kodak magic moments, those wish the “earth sucked me up” moments, those times you had to hold back tears, or were about to pee your pants. Take a chance, break a nail, let your hair loose and tell it on the blog readers.

Make it happen, tell your story and participate.

Pax Inedita

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Raise interpreter standards

Our position: Reliable translations in court increase the chances of justice for all.

April 16, 2006

Suppose you're in criminal court and you want to plead guilty to stealing a toolbox but not the $125,000 dump truck.

You enter your plea in your native language -- Spanish -- and an interpreter translates for the judge. But the translations are confusing and you get sentenced for the wrong crime.

It happened in Volusia County, and without state standards to govern how court interpreters do their jobs it could just as easily happen again.

Two bills working their way through the state Legislature propose to set statewide standards for court interpreters. The effort is crucial to ensuring justice for all court users, regardless of their ability to speak English.

Thousands in Volusia County need the assurances such standards would bring. A 2004 U.S. Census survey showed that an estimated 44,080 Volusia residents, or about 10 percent, speak a language other than English at home. Census statistics also show that in Volusia 16,803 residents, about 4 percent, speak English less than "very well."

If the measures pass, interpreters could be required to pass a test, meet continuing education requirements and sign an oath agreeing to uphold a code of conduct improvements that would help preserve the integrity of the courts.

Applicants would likely be charged a fee to become certified and to renew that certification. Also, the state would be authorized to hire workers for the program. But courts have an obligation to provide interpreters for indigent defendants to protect their due process and equal protection rights. The cost of not doing so is much higher than what the state and interpreters might shell out to adhere to standards.

The state court system offers oral tests for interpreters who speak Spanish, Haitian Creole, Russian, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Arabic, Polish, Korean, Hmong, Laotian and Mandarin. But a passing score nets only a certificate of qualification, not certification. And the tests aren't mandatory in some judicial circuits.

Practices vary among the Florida courts regarding regulation of court interpreter services. Some larger circuits do well with a broad network of capable interpreters at the ready, but statewide standards would make it easier to have good interpreters in all circuits.

It wouldn't be a perfect system. There could be some rarely spoken languages for which there would be no tests. Still, some minimum standards would be better than none.

In the circuit that includes Volusia, two Spanish interpreters are on staff and five freelance Spanish interpreters are used regularly. When interpreters are needed for other languages, officials look to neighboring circuits and, based on past positive experiences, hope for the best.

State standards would give the circuits something more concrete to rely on than hope.

FL Lawmakers consider statewide standards for court interpreters.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

State legislators are considering a bill that would establish new standards for court interpreters. In a diverse state like Florida, one can only wonder why it's taken this long.

Fortunately, two Miami Republicans are trying to make up for lost time. State Rep. Anitere Flores and state Sen. Alex Villalobos have filed legislation that would require the Florida Supreme Court to establish statewide disciplinary proceedings, rules of conduct and training requirements for court interpreters.

Their bills, HB 849 and SB 1128, amount to a reasonable effort to raise the professionalism of an important job in the state's network of circuit and county courts.

Florida, like many other parts of the nation, is becoming more multilingual by the minute. One in 10 Florida residents do not speak English very well. The issue is more prevalent in South Florida and in pockets of central Florida, where an ever-increasing proportion of residents struggle with English, be they from Latin America, Asia or the Baltics.

Interpreters are essential to the legal system because they ensure the constitutional guarantee of fair treatment in court. Speech, no matter the language, often veers from formal to slang and idiomatic expressions. In a judicial setting, it's crucial for an interpreter to be accurate, impartial and fast.

Currently, state courts offer prospective interpreters tests in many languages, but those tests aren't mandatory and any existing standards tend to vary among judicial districts. The Legislature should support a sensible initiative that would end a mishmash of standards and improve court interpretive services.

BOTTOM LINE: The Legislature should pass a long-overdue measure that will improve services provided in state courts.

Breaking down language barriers

Police and courts use interpreters on various cases


Communication is key for Hagerstown Police Department dispatcher Ben Ros, who on a typical workday fields numerous calls from distressed city residents, some of whom speak little English.

"As soon as I hear the accent, I ask, 'Do you speak Spanish?'" said Ros, 31, who speaks the language fluently.

Police and court officials said they call on interpreters for a variety of languages, but most often for Spanish.

Ros, who was raised in Miami, mostly by his Cuban grandparents, has switched to Spanish on calls in the past three months "almost on a daily basis," he said. In response to the increase in the Spanish-speaking population here, Ros said he was asked by the department to become a state-certified interpreter.

Ros' application to become certified has been accepted, but he must pass written and oral exams before that happens, he said. In the meantime, he can serve as an interpreter without the certification.

To Julia Cardenas, interpreting for those who speak Spanish in court and for the local police departments is payback for the welcome she received when she and her husband, Hugo Cardenas, arrived in the United States from Peru 40 years ago, she said.

For the better part of 20 years, Cardenas and her husband were the only two on call to translate in Washington County, but Cardenas said that has changed in recent years as more interpreters have been needed.

Cardenas said she has noticed there are more Salvadorans and Mexicans moving into the area, but said interpreting for those from different Spanish-speaking countries is not difficult.

"It's just different intonations, like the people in New York speak in different ways from (people in) the South," she said.

"People from different countries have different phrases," she said. Sometimes they speak "lower or faster. The people who don't have too much education, they use more slang. That's a little more difficult, like 'What do you mean by this?'"

Becoming bilingual

For the Hagerstown Police Department, the increased need for interpreters was brought to light during a December homicide investigation, said Lt. Mike King, the department's Criminal Investigations Division supervisor.

The victim, Eliezer Rodriguez, 22, was stabbed in the chest and abdomen during a Dec. 10 fight in the 100 block of West North Avenue. Angel Teodoro Villatoro, 35, and Irving Atillo Benitez, 14, were charged in Rodriguez's death. Both are scheduled to go to trial in July.

Detectives investigating Rodriguez's death called on Ros and Cardenas to interview Spanish-speaking witnesses, King said.

Sgt. Paul Kifer said the department was trying to get Detective Lauren Robinson "some intensive Spanish training" to sharpen her skills. Robinson will not get certified, however, because it would be a conflict of interest to be a court interpreter and a police officer.

Ros and Robinson have translated for city police and other police departments.

Kifer said Spanish has been added to the curriculum at the Western Maryland Police Academy, which trains prospective city, county and smaller Maryland police department officers.

"It's because of the growing number of Hispanics," Kifer said. "It's important that we become bilingual."

King, Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades and Maryland State Police Lt. Gregory Johnston, supervisor of the Hagerstown barrack, said they call from a list of volunteer interpreters when needed.

Mades said he sees the Spanish population growing as the county's population grows, but said it has not reached the point where the department needs to require deputies to speak Spanish. Nor does he see the need to hire an interpreter for the department, he said.

That doesn't mean police ability to communicate with those who speak Spanish is not a concern, he said.

Cards, handbooks and courses

Sheriff's Department Col. Doug Mullendore said some deputies enroll in a Spanish course offered through Hagerstown Community College, which touches on some basics for officers.

"We do know it's something that if you don't use it, you forget it," Mades said.

Mullendore said Spanish command cards are being printed for each deputy.

On top of that, deputies carry a handbook, "Spanish Speaking for Law Enforcement Officers," but Mades said he doesn't know whether deputies who find themselves in stressful situations are going to stop what they're doing and go for the book.

The book, he said, translates simple questions that might be asked by patrol officers, such as "When did it happen?" or "What did you notice?"

Maryland State Police Sgt. Ronald Ruff, who is the state police's training division in-service training program coordinator, said he helped develop and insert "Survival Spanish," a course to help troopers learn to speak Spanish, into the agency's annual mandatory training curriculum.

Troopers must complete two hours of the "Survival Spanish" course to maintain their credentials as troopers, Ruff said.

Capt. Dan Cornwell, training division commander, said "Survival Spanish" has been taught for the past two years.

"It gives them baseline Spanish information, so they can look for the signs, understand and try to communicate with someone who absolutely cannot speak English at all," Cornwell said.

Troopers also will receive booklets with Spanish translations, Ruff said.

Ruff said the program is in line with U.S. Department of Justice mandates, which state that if an agency receives federal funding, it "must be able to speak to people with limited English proficiency."