There is a growing risk for those speaking out for reform and effecting change. Protesters, lawyers, judges, politicians and activists are under attack. In response, CFJ is fighting for the reform of laws that undercut democracy, exposing sham trials of democracy defenders, and investigating those at the heart of democracy’s decline.

Did you know

In 2022, we presented our inaugural Justice for Survivors Albie Award to Viasna, a leading human rights organization in Belarus. Viasna has spent years fearlessly documenting abuses & defending freedom in the face of authoritarianism. Six Viasna members are currently in prison.

Omoyele Sowore

Justice for democracy defenders can come in many forms. CFJ has played a key role in securing the release and acquittal of opposition figures as well as representing and supporting the families of protesters who suffered violence and harassment because they dared raise their voices.

People attend an opposition rally to reject the Belarusian presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus October 25, 2020.

Protesters asking for change, opposition figures fighting against authoritarianism, and the lawyers who represent them all face unfair trials and harassment. As democracies across the world backslide, TrialWatch has monitored the criminal trials of those who have put their lives on the line for democracy, ramped up pressure on governments and courts and secured the release of numerous democracy-defenders.

People react on the street to a report presented by an International Mission of the United Nations rejected by the Government of Venezuela

Investigating Crackdowns

CFJ investigates the authoritarian leaders and armed groups that stand against democracy, and seeks to disrupt the financial networks that prop them up. Our team works with crucial partner organizations who are carrying out this work at great personal risk. Often, the groups we work with have been targeted by repressive regimes and have team members who have been imprisoned or killed. The Docket provides resources and support to our partners, and carries out field investigations alongside them. Our legal experts use the evidence gathered, to ensure that we achieve justice for survivors and the families of victims of international crimes. We also support and represent survivors and families of victims around the world, from Congolese survivors in France to Venezuelan families of victims in Argentina.

Evidence gathered by CFJ points to the potential liability of Venezuelan security forces in crimes against humanity (Humberto Matheus/Sipa USA)

At CFJ, we see first-hand how lawyers can reform discriminatory laws and obtain justice for survivors of abuse.

But for too long, however, women have been excluded from participating in this process and in the justice system itself. Women remain under-represented on all levels of the legal system—as lawmakers, prosecutors, judges, law professors, senior lawyers, and law enforcement officers.

As a result, our justice processes are less representative, and our democracies can suffer. This is why we launched CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship, a new effort to empower the next generation of feminist lawyers to advance rights for women and girls in their communities. In 2023, our inaugural cohort of fellows will spend the year embedded with one of ten leading human rights and legal advocacy organizations in sub-Saharan Africa.