Interview Techniques in International Criminal Court and Tribunals

  • Melanie O’Brien
  • Mark Kebbell


In this chapter we will discuss the interview techniques that interviewers report being used in international criminal courts and tribunals such as at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) with regards to suspects and “insider witnesses” to alleged international crimes (war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide). Much of the evidence in these trials is elicited from witnesses, victims and suspects, and therefore the way in which they are interviewed is critical to successful prosecutions of the guilty. Interviewing of suspects is as important as interviewing victims and witnesses, as this can assist with information gathering and the process towards establishing the truth (or at least partial truth) of these horrendous crimes and their surrounding context. The interviewers came from a variety of cultural and educational backgrounds (including both law enforcement and the legal profession) and, as such, international criminal investigators and prosecutors are likely to be influenced by their national training and experience. These differences may impact significantly on the interview processes and techniques used to interview individuals concerning international crimes such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Yet despite these differences, the interviewers endorsed establishing rapport, using open questions, and encouraging free-recall. They also emphasised the importance of using evidence effectively and being aware of cultural issues. The need for specialised training of all investigators was also highlighted, in order to ensure a certain level of competency in specific techniques.


International Criminal Justice Interview techniques Suspects International Criminal Court Rapport Evidence Cultural diversity 



The author would like to thank all participants in the research survey, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon for granting permission to interview current staff members. Particular thanks go to John Ralston and Greg Townsend, who facilitated a number of interviews.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Griffith UniversityQueenslandAustralia

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