Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Tricia Redeker Hepner

Committee Members

Murray K. Marks, Walter E. Klippel, Robert C. Blitt


The demand for forensic anthropologists and archaeologists to investigate violations of human rights and international humanitarian law is increasing. The International Criminal Court, established in 1998, has jurisdiction over the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The development of a permanent tribunal with jurisdiction over these crimes as well as the numerous State Parties to the treaty is a reflection of the international community‟s commitment to the prosecution of these crimes. Forensic evidence can and will assume an essential role in future international criminal courts.

Forensic evidence made a significant contribution to the prosecution of genocide and several other crimes in trials held by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. This study examines three cases in which the defendants were indicted for committing the crime of genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1995 during the Bosnian War. These cases demonstrate three main concerns for forensic experts involved in a forensic investigation. First, forensic experts must testify to evidence that can satisfy the legal definitions of crimes. Second, the forensic expert must conduct an investigation using methods and standards that produce scientific evidence that is accepted by the Court as such. Third, the forensic expert must adhere to professional and ethical standards in an effort to maintain their personal integrity and to protect the legitimacy of the investigation and resultant evidence.

An examination of these three topics with direct references to the trial transcripts of forensic anthropologists, archaeologists, and pathologists‟ testimony provides insight into the prosecution of genocide as it relates to forensic evidence, identifies methodological practices and standard operating procedures that are particularly susceptible to judicial scrutiny, and highlights ethical and professional issues that must be considered by the forensic expert prior to participating in a criminal investigation. This study offers the potential to improve the utility of forensic evidence in future investigations. A deeper understanding of the legal aspects of forensic investigations may also invigorate research geared towards addressing the needs of court systems and maximizing the potential of forensic evidence in future trials.

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