Translators and interpreters are in the crosshairs of state and non-state actors around the globe. Hunted down and killed by insurgents, tortured by military regimes, prosecuted and imprisoned even in “free-world” countries, the assault on linguists is surprisingly far-reaching. To combat this critical state of affairs, Red T, a non-profit advocacy for translators and interpreters in high-risk settings, and the five major international language associations – AIIC (International Association of Conference Interpreters), FIT (International Federation of Translators), IAPTI (International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters), CLI (Critical Link International) and WASLI (World Association of Sign Language Interpreters) – have joined forces in solidarity. By drawing the attention of the public, governments and other bodies to the terrible fate of many of their colleagues, these organizations seek to achieve greater recognition and protection for translators and interpreters at risk.
The session will be led by AIIC’s Linda Fitchett and Red T’s Maya Hess and will lay out the current landscape for conflict zone linguists; present ongoing activities such as the Open Letter Project, the development of safety guidelines, and the pursuit of a UN Resolution for the Protection of Civilian Translators/Interpreters in Conflict Situations; as well as chart future endeavors.
Maya Hess is the founder and CEO of Red T, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that advocates worldwide on behalf of translators and interpreters in conflict zones and other high-risk settings. As a forensic linguist, she provided language support and expert witness services in many high-profile terrorism trials and experienced firsthand how vulnerable members of this profession can be. Maya holds an M.A. in Journalism from New York University, a Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Studies from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, as well as an M. Phil. and Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the City University of New York.