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Witnesses in the special court for Sierra Leone: The importance of the witness–lawyer relationship

By Rebecca Horn, Simon Charters and Saleem Vahidy


This study is concerned with the relationship between witnesses testifying in the Special Court for Sierra Leone and their legal teams. Other research conducted with witnesses in international war crimes tribunals suggests that this relationship has a significant impact on the experience of such witnesses. A structured interview was administered to 171 witnesses who had testified in the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Witnesses generally felt their lawyers' attitude towards them was extremely good. Emotional support and good preparation for testifying seem to be particularly important predictors of witnesses' relationship with their lawyers, as does the level of respect they felt they received from court staff. However, communication between witnesses and their legal teams after the testimony is over did not have a significant impact on witnesses' evaluations of their lawyers' attitude towards them

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