Testifying in an International War Crimes Tribunal: The Experience of Witnesses in the Special Court for Sierra Leone
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Horn, R., Charters, S. & Vahidy, S. (2008) Testifying in an International War Crimes Tribunal: The Experience of Witnesses in the Special Court for Sierra Leone, International Journal of Transitional Justice, vol. 3, , pp. 135-149,
The research described in this article investigates the extent to which witnesses who testified in the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) report the experience as positive or negative. It also seeks to identify the factors that contribute to these evaluations. It reports the results of structured interviews conducted with 171 witnesses who testified in the SCSL. The finding that emerges most strongly is that the experience of testifying was positive for the majority of witnesses. The courtroom environment was experienced as supportive, and witnesses rated the experiences of both examination-in-chief and cross-examination as being more positive than negative, with examination-in-chief being the more positive of the two. The findings suggest that a positive testimony experience can be predicted when a witness does not feel worried at the prospect of testifying, feels respected by court staff and, to a lesser extent, has a positive experience of cross-examination.