Victims as Witnesses: Views from the Defence



Victim participation raises the question whether a participating victim is still an adequate witness and whether such a witness can still guarantee fairness towards the accused. The principle of equality of arms is under scrutiny, as the accused is confronted with both a public and a private prosecutor. The definition of “victimhood” becomes questionable in the course of the proceedings. An accused, who has been detained for more than ten years at the ICTR and was then acquitted, as has happened, sees himself as a victim. Yet, he is still being called génocidaire and has no right to claim victim status. Furthermore, “story-telling” as a form of victim participation is not advisable; the trial is only concerned with charges and warrants testimony only relating to these. The right to a fair trial, it is concluded, is a right for the accused and not for victims.


Victim participation Compensation Witness Trial fairness Equality of arms Public interest Social identity Mistrust Génocidaires Evidence Testimonies Credibility Presumption of innocence Victims as witnesses 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. ASSER PRESS, The Hague, The Netherlands, and the authors 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BerlinGermany

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