Court interpreting practice in Rwanda: Challenges and strategies for fair justice


  • Telesphore Ngarambe University of Rwanda
  • Etienne Ruvebana University of Rwanda



Court interpreting, international human rights law, fair justice, challenges in court interpreting, strategies for improvement


This paper discusses the practice of court interpreting in Rwanda. It examines the existing legal framework for court interpreters, their practical and professional challenges as well as the strategies towards improving court interpreting practice. Using qualitative methods, this study identified a number of challenges including the selection of court interpreters, the equipment used in court interpreting, the language proficiency of court interpreters, misconceptions of the general public towards court interpreters as well as lengthy court proceedings. The paper further shows the consequences of using unprofessional interpreters, which include miscarriage of justice due to inaccurate interpretation or delayed proceedings. The paper argues, therefore, that Rwanda needs professional court interpreters who are not only equipped with the required skills in judicial interpretation through high level training and qualification in relevant fields but who also demonstrate a high command of court working languages. It is also suggested that in order to comply with the legal standards of international human rights law, Rwandan Judiciary should equip its courts with adequate facilities and equipment for interpreters.