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CCNY Psychologist Testifies In Landmark War Crimes Case

Dr. Adeyinka Akinsulure-Smith, assistant professor of psychology at CCNY and an expert on gender crimes and post-traumatic stress disorder, testified at the war crimes trial of a former Congolese leader in The Hague.

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, former vice president of Congo, is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes related to the actions of his country’s troops while on duty in neighboring Central African Republic (CAR). Prosecutors at the ICC in The Hague say Congolese fighters committed mass rape, killings, and plunder in Bangui, the capital city of CAR, while helping that country’s president thwart a coup.  

In need of an expert on gender crimes and post-traumatic stress disorder to assist with the landmark case that began last November, they turned to Dr. Adeyinka Akinsulure-Smith, assistant professor of psychology at The City College of New York. 

“My role in The Hague was to define what post-traumatic stress was and how it can impact an individual who’s been through sexual violence during armed conflict,” she said. 

To prepare her testimony, Professor Akinsulure-Smith traveled to Bangui last October to interview survivors of sexual violence. “It was an intense and deeply moving experience,” she said.  

Professor Akinsulure-Smith was invited to testify because of her extensive clinical experience. A native of Sierra Leone, she has worked with war trauma survivors, refugees and asylum seekers as well as victims of sexual violence and people afflicted with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Before joining the CCNY psychology department in 2006, she worked as a full-time clinician at Manhattan’s Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture (PSOT). She continues to conduct individual and group psychotherapy sessions as well as psychological assessments of survivors of torture, refugee-related trauma and human rights abuses. Her clients at PSOT come from one-time and current conflict areas such as Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. 

In her homeland, Professor Akinsulure-Smith has been involved in human rights investigations with Physicians for Human Rights and the United Nations. 

Professor Akinsulure-Smith also co-founded Nah We Yone, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Harlem that provides social and psychological services to displaced African war victims in the New York Metropolitan area. For this, she and the agency’s other co-founders in 2003 received Union Square awards, which recognize emerging organizations that address social justice issues by mobilizing New Yorkers to take action.

In 2005, Professor Akinsulure-Smith received an “Early Career Award” from Teachers College, Columbia University. In addition, in 2009 she received a four-year fellowship from the Research in HIV Intervention Skills for the Community program at Hunter College’s Center for Community and Urban Health.



Jay Mwamba
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