Integration of mental health and psychosocial support approaches in accountability mechanisms for atrocity crimes

Middle East West-Africa, East Africa, North Africa, Horn of Africa, Pacific, Europe,

Despite the increasing focus on victim-centred justice, the incorporation of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) approaches, including trauma-informed methodologies, remains sporadic and inadequately integrated within most justice mechanisms. Good practices exist but are dispersed and inaccessible to many mental health and justice practitioners. However, experience and emerging research show that integrating a mental health focus and promoting multidisciplinary approaches directly contribute to enhancing the well-being and increasing the motivation of participants in the justice system, while improving evidence quality.

This study sought to examine and disseminate effective practices for integrating MHPSS in accountability mechanisms and to foster a community of practice among mental health and legal practitioners. It delves into accountability mechanisms amidst the broader spectrum of transitional justice,  applying a gender lens and focusing on the needs of children. 

Findings are rooted in the best practices developed by the Victims and Witnesses Sections of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), supplemented by a desk review of existing practices and guidelines and extensive consultations with a wide array of experts and victim groups. An expert meeting further distilled recommendations and charted future directions.

Part one of this report explains why accountability mechanisms were selected as a focus for this study and describes the varied experience and backgrounds of victims and witnesses of atrocity crimes. 

Part two of the study focuses on integrating MHPSS approaches throughout the testimony timeline and describes concrete good practices for implementing them in justice processes.

Finally, part three of the study describes a way forward and possible avenues for the next steps of the project. Building on the results of this study, the future project (the Antigone Project) intends to consolidate consensus, further build know-how and strengthen the exchange of good practices. By developing guidelines as a stepping stone to standards and developing a community of practice, the project will strive for the structural integration of MHPSS in accountability processes for atrocity crimes.

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