International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

The Impact of Visuals on Justice and Peace

This video was posted on the IJCentral page and looks at the relationship of visual images and war crimes trials.

The video was put together by a team at King’s College in London who studied the role that visual images can play in achieving justice and peace in a post-conflict society. Not surprisingly, as more and more people around the world have access to televisions, the internet and other sources of news, visual images of war crimes are not only reaching a large audience but also playing a bigger role in swaying public opinion.

The researchers looked specifically at the case of the Yugoslavia tribunals and how video footage of the Scorpion Unit killing civillians affected those in the courtroom. According to the surveyed participants in the courtroom, the footage had a far greater evidentiary effect than anything else that was presented in the trial.

As previously mentioned, images can be used to sway public opinion and often can promote reconciliation. Images of atrocities sway the hearts and minds of the public and be used to teach societies to acknowledge past violence and promote peace.

What I found particularly interesting in this clip was the reaction of victims to watching the criminal proceedings. Criminal accountability for the perpetrator that wronged them is often mentioned as what victims want from a State. One would think that if a victim couldn’t be physically present at a trial, they would want to watch the trial on TV and watch the person that harmed them face justice. However the researchers in the video mentioned that victims often feel isolated and detached from the courtroom, understandable so because the trial way occur thousand of miles from where they live, but they also feel disgusted as they watch. They find the “politeness” and “sycophancy” of the court disturbing. Even though the perpetrator is being held accountable for his crimes, and justice is being served, peace in the mind of the victim is still not achieved.


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