Disclosing the truth: informed participation in the Antemortem Database Project for Survivors of Srebrenica

UMMS Affiliation

Meyers Primary Care Institute

Publication Date


Document Type



Bosnia-Herzegovina; Cause of Death; Community-Institutional Relations; Criminal Law; Databases, Factual; Family; Forensic Anthropology; Group Processes; Homicide; Human Rights; Humans; Survivors; Truth Disclosure; War Crimes


Health Services Research | Primary Care | Public Health


This article describes a human rights investigation designed to identify bodies exhumed from mass graves in Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the psychological impact of participation on family members, most of whom believed the disappeared could still be alive. A community education intervention, conducted in both group and individual settings, was effective in helping families make an informed decision about participation. For informed participants, the psychological benefits outweighed any deleterious effects. The article concludes that fully disclosing the truth to potential participants, providing culturally and temporally sensitive psychosocial preparation, and securing informed consent are basic ethical and human rights principles that must be upheld at all times. Further studies are necessary to measure the impact of human rights activities of this nature on the survivor participants and implementers alike.


Keough ME, Kahn S, Andrejevic A. Disclosing the Truth: Informed Participation in the Antemortem Database Project for Survivors of Srebrenica. Health and Human Rights, 2000; 5:68-87. Link to article on publisher's website

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Health and human rights


At the time of publication, Mary Ellen Keough was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID