Victims in the Witness Stand: Socio-Cultural and Psychological Challenges in Eliciting Victim Testimony

  • Ellie SmithEmail author
Part of the International Criminal Justice Series book series (ICJS, volume 11)


Victim testimony does not occur in a legal vacuum. This chapter explores socio-cultural and psychological barriers that inhibit testimony for victims of international crimes. These barriers can arise at the time of the crime, during the period between the perpetration of the crime and testimony, and during testimony itself, where the psychological impact of trauma has affected the ability of the victim to recall or coherently articulate their experiences. While many of these barriers stem directly from the abuse suffered, actions of the courts, including collective approaches to victim representation, the use of interpreters and intermediaries, and the nature and style of questioning, also have the potential to mediate or inhibit individual testimony. These barriers pose challenges not only for the victim themselves, but also for Prosecution and Defence counsel, victims’ lawyers, victim support personnel and judges in the attainment and assessment of victim evidence.


International Criminal Court Testimony Credibility Trauma Psychological impact Memory Sexual violence Rape Contaminated testimony Composite narrative Collective representation 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the authors 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NewcastleUK

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