The victim-witness experience in the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
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Horn, R., Charters, S. & Vahidy, S. (2009) The victim-witness experience in the Special Court for Sierra Leone., International Review of Victimology, vol. Vol. 1, , pp. 277-298,
This paper reports the findings of an interview study of 144 victim-witnesses who testified in the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). Witnesses expressed satisfaction with the preparation they received for testifying from their lawyers, particularly appreciating emotional support, as well as practical preparations. Victim-witnesses generally evaluated their interactions with all court staff positively, and reported feeling well-treated by the Court. The experience of cross-examination was difficult for a large proportion of witnesses in the current study, but an even larger group of witnesses reported the experience to be positive. For some witnesses, the experience of successfully coping with the challenge of cross-examination may be empowering. The feelings reportedly experienced by witnesses during their testimony are similarly mixed: a large proportion reported painful feelings, but others reported feeling confident, relieved and happy when they testified. The importance of continued post-testimony contact with witnesses is supported by the current study; witnesses expressed a strong desire for ongoing contact with the SCSL. According to witnesses' own evaluations, their security was not negatively affected by their involvement with the court. This indicates that the SCSL has been largely successful in its attempt to protect the identities of those who testify in its trials.