More resources

From the ICTY website: Translation and Interpretation

Alexandra Tomić and Ana Beltrán Montoliu: "Translation at the International Criminal Court"

British Women on the Serbian Front: a video of Alexandra Tomić telling the story of volunteer female medical staff who travelled to Serbia in 1915 at the height of the worst typhus epidemic in history.

Alexandra Tomić

Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian Translator and Interpreter, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, 1994-2003; Chief of Language Services Section, International Criminal Court, 2003-presentTomic Profile Pic

An interview with Alexandra Tomić, conducted on 25 May 2015 in The Hague by David P. Briand and Leigh Swigart.

Access the full transcript here.

Go to the Brandeis Institutional Repository to conduct a keyword search across the entire Ad Hoc Tribunals Oral History collection.

Please use the following citation format: Oral History Interview with Alexandra Tomić (2016), Ad Hoc Tribunals Oral History Project, pages XX, International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University.

Interview content

In this interview, Ms. Tomić reminisces about life in England at beginning of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia; her work as an interpreter for Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian refugees in The Netherlands; application to the ICTY to work in translation after hearing about the Tribunal on early morning radio; her first assignment and early translation work at the ICTY; her first mission doing English/French interpretation; missions to Zagreb and Sarajevo after the Dayton Peace Accords; difficulties as a Serbian during interpretation sessions; interpretation of witness interviews and sensitivity issues that arose; her first time in the Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS) booth during courtroom arguments; interpretation for defense counsel at the ICTY detention center and contact with the accused; her decision to leave the ICTY for the ICC and the challenge of building a new position; adjustments to the ICC translation section due to ICTY experiences. She discusses the classification of Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian as a single language; attempts by the Tribunal to contact witnesses and to prosecute defendants in a balanced way; the structure of investigation and interpretation teams for witness interviews; mental preparation for and the toll of witness interviews; differences between the Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian languages and the difficulties of proofreading documents in BCS; the easier and more difficult aspects of interpretation; the challenges of translating and interpreting a variety of languages at ICC.

Biographical information

Alexandra Tomić is currently the Chief of the Language Services Section (previously the Court Interpretation and Translation Section) at the International Criminal Court, which she joined in 2003. Prior to establishing the language services of the ICC from scratch, Alexandra worked as a translator and interpreter at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) from 1994 to 2003. As an interpreter, she went on many missions to the former Yugoslavia and worked for three years exclusively as part of teams investigating war crimes. Having undergone in-house training for simultaneous interpretation, Alexandra also worked in the English booth interpreting from Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and French into English. She holds a BA in French and English from Belgrade University and an MA in Military Studies from American Military University. She is currently preparing a PhD in Military History at Leiden University.