Launch of Echoes of Testimonies: A Pilot Study into the long-term impact of bearing witness before the ICTY

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Castelberry Peace Institute (University of North Texas), and The Hague Institute for Global Justice were pleased to invite you to the launch of “Echoes of testimonies: A Pilot Study into the long-term impact of bearing witness before the ICTY”, a report by the Victims and Witnesses Section (ICTY) and the Castleberry Peace Institute, University of North Texas (UNT).

The launch took place on Thursday, 9 June 2016 at The Hague Institute for Global Justice (Sophialaan 10, The Hague) at 16:30.

The launch featured opening remarks by ICTY President, Judge Carmel Agius, followed by a public panel discussion with:

  • Ms. Helena Vranov Schoorl, Head of Victims and Witnesses Support and Operation Unit (VWS), ICTY
  • Dr. James Meernik, Director of the Castleberry Peace Institute and Coordinator of the Division of Social Sciences (UNT)
  • Dr. Kimi Lynn King, Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas
  • Moderator: Mr. Nenad Golčevski, Acting Spokesperson for the Registry and Chambers, ICTY

Scholars have different views on the effects of testifying, ranging from cathartic benefits to potentially re-traumatizing consequences, but limited research has been conducted. In 2012, the Victims and Witnesses Section (VWS) and the University of North Texas (UNT) launched a pilot study into the long-term impact of testimony on witnesses who have been called to testify about the crimes committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. From 2013 to 2015, the VWS conducted in-person interviews with 300 witnesses residing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Serbia. Key areas included: witness’ background and reasons for testifying; socio-economic impact of testifying; security concerns; physical and psychological health and well-being; and perceptions about justice and the ICTY.

The Pilot Study is groundbreaking in several respects. To date, no study of this scale has ever utilized a systematic and scientific sampling process of such a large population or included witnesses called by all parties to cases (Prosecution and Defense, as well as Chambers) in order to examine the impact of testifying. The involvement of VWS allowed the inclusion in the study of witnesses who would otherwise be excluded (such as witnesses with in-court protective measures), while UNT as an external research partner ensured the reliability and validity of the research process including independent data analysis.

The VWS and UNT believe that the realization of this project will further build upon the pioneering work of witness support, as well as contribute to further recognition of the importance of victim and witness support in judicial environment.

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