Vulnerable Groups Human Rights Defenders

Trials of Human Rights Defenders

In every region, there is a growing risk for human rights defenders—protesters seeking to affect change, and the lawyers, judges, politicians, and activists trying to protect those at risk. TrialWatch is monitoring multiple cases on this basis:

  • The trial in Kazakhstan of Askhat Zheksebaev, a 49 year-old small business owner and activist who was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison under Kazakhstan’s draconian ‘anti-extremism’ legislation, showed an “alarming disregard” for the right to a fair trial, a TrialWatch report said.
  • The trial of Cambodian-American lawyer Theary Seng, who was sentenced to six years in prison after a severely flawed trial during which the prosecution failed to present evidence of criminal conduct but instead focused on a series of Facebook posts that expressed support for an opposition leader. A TrialWatch report gave the proceedings an F grade, finding that the trial was “a travesty of justice.” Ms. Seng’s appeal against her conviction is pending.
  • The trial of Alnur Ilyashev in Kazakhstan, who was unjustly sentenced to three years of restricted movement, 300 hours of forced labor, and a five-year ban on political and civic activism. Ilyashev was prosecuted for Facebook posts critical of the ruling party.
  • The trial in Russia of artist and activist Yulia Tsvetkova, who was prosecuted in Russia for posting drawings of the female body on social media and acquitted in 2022. She now faces retrial and potential imprisonment. CFJ called on othe court of appeal to uphold Tsvetkova’s acquittal.
  • The trial in Tunisia of activist and blogger Myriam Bribri, who was charged with ‘offending others’ for reposting and commenting on a video of a police officer beating someone.  The charges against the blogger were predicated on a complaint by the Secretary-General of the Regional Section of the Security Forces Union in Sfax, which said that the post had offended the Secretary-General “in particular.”
  • The trial of Ahmed Manseri in Algeria, who was charged with criminal defamation in connection with his advocacy regarding human rights abuses perpetrated by the security forces. See full Fairness Report here.
  • The trial of human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo in Uganda, who has been charged with money laundering, which carries a potential penalty of up to 5 years’ imprisonment. See CFJ statement announcing the monitoring here.
  • The trial of six activists in Zambia charged with disobeying lawful orders in connection with a planned, peaceful protest against government corruption. See full Fairness Report here.
  • The trial of Veysel Ok in Turkey, who was convicted of insulting the judiciary on account of a press interview he gave questioning the judiciary’s lack of independence. See CFJ statement on his conviction hereSee full Fairness Report here.
  • The mass trial in Equatorial Guinea of over a hundred individuals in relation to their alleged involvement in a coup plot, in which 112 defendants were convicted, with 20 defendants receiving sentences of over 70 years in prison. See CFJ statement hereSee full Fairness Report here.
  • The trial of Mikhail Benyash in Russia, a lawyer who has defended human rights activists and was convicted of assaulting the police, despite the fact that Benyash alleged that he was the one who was beaten and violently pushed.  See CFJ statement on his conviction hereSee full Fairness Report here.
  • The trial in Myanmar of seven members of the satirical theater group Peacock Generation Troupe, six of whom were convicted of statements “intended to cause or likely to cause mutiny or disregard of duties in the Army” on the basis of their performance of a traditional Thangyat.  See CFJ statement on the conviction of six defendants hereSee full Fairness Report here.
  • The trial in Guatemala of Abelino Chub Caal, an indigenous leader who was charged with aggravated usurpation, arson, and illicit association.  See full Fairness Report here.
  • The trial in Thailand of Wut Boonlert, an indigenous activist charged with criminal defamation for sharing an article about a Parks official. See full Fairness Report here.
  • The trial in Russia of Server Mustafayev, a Tatar human rights defender who, along with others, was convicted of terrorism-related offenses, with the defendants given sentences of between 13 and 19 years’ imprisonment. See CFJ statement on medical care for the defendants hereSee CFJ statement on Mr. Mustafayev’s conviction here.
  • The trial in Zambia of Chishimba Kambwili, who has been charged with criminal defamation for comments allegedly about the President of Zambia.
  • The trial in Thailand of four individuals charged with sedition and “membership in a secret society” for their alleged affiliation with a political group that advocates for a republican-style government and which the Thai government considers anti-monarchist: specifically, the defendants were accused of distributing flyers and wearing and selling t-shirts related to this political group. See full Fairness Report here.
  • Two trials in Thailand involving claims of criminal defamation by the Thammakaset poultry company based on tweets and retweets regarding alleged labor abuses by Thammakaset.
  • Several trials in Hong Kong of pro-democracy protestors and opposition leaders charged with organizing and participating in unauthorized assemblies related to several demonstrations in 2019 and 2020.
  • The trial of Kong Raiya in Cambodia, who was convicted of incitement for advertising t-shirts commemorating the death of an activist. See CFJ statement on his conviction hereSee full Fairness Report here.
  • The trial of artist Danai Ussama in Thailand, charged with the dissemination of “false” information for Facebook posts stating that neither he nor other passengers were given appropriate health screening at Bangkok airport upon their return from Barcelona.
  • The trial in Thailand of student activist Parit Chiwarak on charges of contempt for organizing a courthouse demonstration in support of other pro-democracy activists facing prosecution.
  • The trial in Thailand of Arnon Nampa and Panupong Jadnok on charges of sedition and other public-order offenses for their participation in anti-monarchy and anti-government protests. See CFJ statement on Arnon Nampa’s arrest hereSee CFJ statement on lèse majesté charges against pro-democracy protestors, including Arnon Nampa, here.
  • The trial in Nigeria of Eromosele Adene, who has been charged with conspiracy to commit a felony (provoking breach of peace), provoking breach of peace through offensive publication, and conduct likely to cause a breach of peace in connection with his participation in End SARS protests.
  • The trial in Indonesia of a woman who is facing up to four years in jail under Indonesia’s controversial Electronic Information and Transactions Law (ITE Law) for a critical customer review of her experience at a dermatology clinic.