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Gabriele Chlevickaite wins Praemium Erasmianum dissertation prize

2 May 2023
Gabriele Chlevickaite, assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, has won the Dissertation Prize of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation for her dissertation entitled Insider Witnesses Reliability and Credibility - An empirical legal framework for international criminal justice for which she obtained her PhD on 29 March 2022.

The PhD research of Gabriele Chlevickaite (supervised by professor criminology Catrien Bijleveld and criminologist Barbora Hola) delved into the fundamental question for (international) criminal justice: which pieces of evidence, or witnesses, are reliable, and which ones are not? She focused on accomplice (insider) witnesses at three international tribunals: International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the International Criminal Court.

Chlevickaite combined systematic, qualitative and quantitative analyses of international tribunals’ jurisprudence with an experimental vignette study, a unique approach to the field of international criminal justice studies. Vignette studies use short descriptions of situations or persons (vignettes) that are usually shown to respondents within surveys to elicit their judgments about these scenarios. Using these methods, she illuminated both the legal decision-making processes and their outcomes. In doing so, she showcased the extent of the witness evidence-related challenges for international criminal justice.

Chlevickaite: “Being awarded the Praemium Erasmianum Dissertation prize is not something I would have expected, considering the exceptional dissertations that are defended each year! Winning the prize feels like a recognition of the PhD research, as well as of the importance of the field of empirical studies of international criminal justice. It motivates me to develop this line of research further, including both national and international legal responses to international crimes, their investigations and prosecutions.”  

The Dissertation Prize of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation is awarded annually to a maximum of five outstanding dissertations in the fields of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law. The prize consists of a sum of €3,000 and a certificate. The award ceremony will take place on Friday 2 June at the Paushuize in Utrecht. In previous years, the dissertations of (former) VU Amsterdam colleagues Dion Kramer (2021), Maaike Matelski (2017), Britta van Beers (2011), Hemme Battjes (2006), Thomas Spijkerboer (2001), Klaas Rozemond (1998) and Ben Vermeulen (1990) have also been awarded.