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ADVANCING JUSTICE

 

Advancing Justice Through Expert Testimony in Haiti

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CHALLENGE

To promote the use of expert witness testimony in rape cases in Haiti.

SOLUTION

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Develop a film that could be used to promote the use of expert witness testimony in these cases and a distribution strategy to ensure that new lawyers as well as those currently on the bench were open to introducing expert witnesses into their courtrooms for these and other types of cases.

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OVERVIEW

In 2013, over 100 cases of rape were thrown out of Haitian courts because of a lack of information by judges about the crime of rape and why justice is so important. Haiti does not have a strong tradition of using expert witness testimony in the courtroom but it was needed to help rape victims find justice. In response, we worked with our partners to develop a film that was part instructional, part motivational, to push for the introduction and acceptance of expert witnesses in Haitian courtrooms. For this production, we interviewed lawyers, survivors, judges, legal scholars, legal advocates, and service providers to show the importance of introducing expert witnesses in rape cases to Haitian courtrooms. Haiti has the highest rate of sexual violence in the hemisphere, yet disturbingly has one of the lowest prosecution rates. Women are afraid to come to court and in many cases, their petitions are thrown out due to a lack of knowledge that expert witnesses could provide, helping to provide accountability to victims and deterrence of future crimes.  The film was used to promote the use of expert witnesses in rape cases in Haiti among both lawyers and judges. It became required viewing for all incoming lawyers in Haiti after its creation. Created with the New Media Advocacy Project. Available in Haitian Creole and English.