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The Practice of ‘Witness Proofing’ in International Criminal Tribunals: Why the International Criminal Court Should Prohibit the Practice


Witness proofing – or witness preparation – has been common practice at the ad hoc criminal tribunals but was prohibited in the first trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) (the Lubanga case). The ad hocs have robustly defended the practice, claiming that it assists the efficient presentation of evidence and enhances the truth-finding process. This article examines the way in which the ad hocs have allowed the process to become an integral feature of their procedural regimes without sufficient examination of these apparent merits. The ad hocs appear to have accepted that prohibiting the parties from rehearsing, practising, and coaching evidence was in the interests of justice, but yet – in the uncritical acceptance of the benefits of proofing – have sanctioned practices which are impossible to distinguish. The Lubanga case represented a welcome attempt by the ICC to examine proofing and its attendant risks and, for the reasons outlined in the article, the chambers arrived somewhere close to the right decision.

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Leiden Journal of International Law
  • ISSN: 0922-1565
  • EISSN: 1478-9698
  • URL: /core/journals/leiden-journal-of-international-law
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