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Testifying in the Special Court for Sierra Leone: witness perceptions of safety and emotional welfare

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This paper describes the experience of those who have testified in the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), particularly in terms of the impact on witness security and emotional welfare. The SCSL is an international war crimes tribunal located in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Testifying in such a court has the potential to negatively impact on witnesses' personal security, and their emotional, social and economic well-being. Therefore, the SCSL has a number of measures in place to protect witnesses, and to ensure they are not negatively affected by testifying. One hundred and seventy-one witnesses who had completed their testimony were interviewed. Their responses indicate that witnesses do not feel less safe as a result of their involvement with the SCSL, and that they become less worried as their familiarity with the Court and its processes increases. Aspects of the SCSL's work with witnesses that particularly contribute to their well-being are identified, along with aspects of the service which could be modified or improved.

Keywords: Special Court for Sierra Leone; emotional welfare; international war crimes tribunals; security; witnesses

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Queen Margaret University, Institute of International Health and Development, Musselburgh, Edinburgh, UK 2: Special Court for Sierra Leone, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Publication date: June 1, 2011


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