After the Fact: War Crime Witnesses Encounter Justice

On 7 June 2017, Henry Redwood, an ESRC-funded PhD candidate in the War Studies Department at King’s College London and as a research associate on the AHRC-funded project, ‘Art & Reconciliation: Conflict, Culture and Community,’ screened the film After the Fact, at the invitation of LSE’s Conflict Research Group, based at the Department of Government, LSE.

The film is based on a chapter of Henry Redwood’s doctoral research on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). It is a powerful attempt to present research in a new and thought-provoking way. His focus in this segment of his work how witnesses of war crimes encounter and experience international criminal justice, it means to witness an atrocity, the legitimacy of the current international criminal justice project. He argues that the process fails the witnesses, who often feel disappointed and betrayed by the entire process, as well as traumatised having to relive the abuse by retelling it.

During a discussion led by Dr Denisa Kostovicova, who is Associate Professor in Global Politics at the Department of Government, LSE, and co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project, ‘Art & Reconciliation: Conflict, Culture and Community,’ Henry Redwood elaborated on the value of art in the context of transitional justice, and the challenge of presenting academic research in an artistic form.

A lively discussion turned to questions not just about art and its role in opening a debate about difficult issues concerning the mass atrocity and violations of human rights, but also about the creative process. What is it like to translate the thesis into a film? One interesting point he made was that he felt that he had to elide lots of complexity — because of the time constraints and the medium. But, on the other hand, the medium – through sound, shots from the back, etc. also adds a different kind of subtlety and complexity. Also, Henry reflected on his work saying that his academic focus in on silences, and what is unsaid in the criminal trials — whereas he felt that through this creative process he himself was silenced as he could not express everything in such a short film — and in a way went through the same process as the witnesses he was studying.

Denisa Kostovicova

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