Documenting Victims of War Crimes: Ethical Considerations

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Straessle, Abby
Issue Date
Scholarship Sewanee 2020 , Refugees , Journalism , Ethics , War crimes , Human rights
Bombs explode as children scamper to school. Political prisoners escape torture and seek the safety of allies. All the while, Bashar al-Assad holds a death grip on Syria in a last gasp attempt to hold on to power. In the middle of war, the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF) has become a force of peace. Since the beginning of the Syrian Crisis, SETF has worked with dozens of Syrian civilians who have suffered at the hands of Bashar al-Assad. Although they are different, their stories remind us that they too are humans. In the spring of 2018, the SETF team made a trip to the Turkish-Syrian border. During the trip, the team visited with dozens of victims of war, hearing their stories and offering hope. Although never published, these stories have been a driving force of SETF’s mission; “to advocate in solidarity with the Syrian people to inform and educate the American public and its representatives about their suffering, while addressing the colossal humanitarian crisis and promoting the development of the Syrian civil society based on respect from human dignity and freedom.”1 With SETF’s mission in mind, this report aims to serve as a guide for the SETF team when conducting and publishing future interviews. Additionally, this report will address the most beneficial and ethical journalistic practices that will be used in SETF’s new website extension; “Voices from the Ground.” This extension will document the stories from the victims that SETF interviewed during their 2018 trip to the Turkish-Syrian border using a blog format.The blog serves as a symbol of SETF’s mission in action as its’ goal is to educate the American public by allowing them to hear the stories of victims of war. The hope is for an increase in awareness and a drive to take action in a way that is both ethical and concrete.