Insider witnesses’ credibility and reliability: an empirical legal framework for international criminal justice

This NWO funded PhD project analyzes insider witness testimony at international criminal courts and tribunals. Insider witness testimony is both the strongest and the weakest link in international criminal justice. Only insiders can link high-level perpetrators to international crimes – such as genocide and crimes against humanity. However, their credibility and reliability is often (successfully) contested, obstructing international criminal justice. This study, conducted by Gabriele Chlevickaite and supervised by Barbora Hola and Catrien Bijleveld, will combine legal and empirical mixed-method analyses to identify those witness assessment factors that most strongly affect insider witness’ perceived credibility and reliability, and empirically test a theory-based framework that will innovate empirical international legal scholarship as well as provide guidance for practitioners.

Gabriele Chlevickaite graduated from the VU Master in International Crimes and Criminology (cum laude) in 2015. While studying at the VU, Gabriele was interning as a junior researcher on a project “When Justice is Done” at the Center for International Criminal Justice (CICJ), followed by an internship at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Her master thesis, focused on insider witness testimony at the ICC, provided the basis for the Empirical Study of Insider Witnesses’ Assessments at the International Criminal Court, a research article co-authored with Barbora Hola, published in the International Criminal Law Review in August 2016. The thesis itself was the finalist at the “Visions for Peace” award in 2015. Over the last three years Gabriele has been working as an analysis assistant at the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Gabriele joined the NSCR and the CICJ as a PhD candidate in September 2017, after being awarded the NWO Research Talent grant. Her current study, building upon upon her previous work, will focus on the credibility and reliability assessments of insider witnesses in international criminal courts and tribunals, namely the factors influencing the practitioners’ decision-making, and their impact on the evidentiary weight of the testimony in question. The aim of the study is to establish empirically-based witness assessment guidelines for international criminal justice.

Gabriele is a member of the NSCR Empirical Legal Studies Cluster and researcher at the CICJ.

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