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Psycho-Social Aspects Surrounding Criminal Investigations into Mass Graves

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In the context of transitional justice, forensic investigations into mass graves aim to respond to the humanitarian needs arising from human rights’ violations or to satisfy legal, evidentiary requirements. Whilst victims are cited as the main rationale behind international criminal justice, the actual investigative and prosecution procedures may not focus on the psycho-social ramification these activities have for survivors. This becomes particularly evident when considering forensic investigations of mass graves. Anchored in the transitional justice framework, the article identifies and examines issues surrounding excavations such as 1) religion, culture and commemoration; 2) history, revisionism and demystification; 3) identification; and the 4) impact on the domestic judiciary and capacity-building within the Cambodian and Yugoslavian context. Finally the article asks whether it is the duty of investigations to take psycho-social factors into account when embarking on forensic missions.

Affiliations: 1: Lecturer in Law, Bournemouth University, United Kingdom


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