Freeing the Innocent

Amal has helped defend me since 2019, and I’m a rarity for her because she can actually talk to me. In the past, her journalist clients were in prison, and she worked to free them by combining law with an incisive understanding of politics, pragmatism, and public advocacy.

- Journalist and Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa, facing the rest of her life behind bars in the Philippines

We are proud of the work our TrialWatch initiative has led to innocent journalists, women, and minorities being freed from imprisonment after we exposed their sham trials.

Recipient of multiple awards including the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Gwen Ifill Award for ‘extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom’ and the American Society of International Law’s Champion of the International Rule of Law’ award, CFJ Co-Founder Amal Clooney has successfully freed clients even in the most challenging legal landscapes. This includes Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, detained in Myanmar following their coverage of the genocide of Rohingya Muslims, Al Jazeera’s former bureau chief for Egypt, Mohamed Fahmy, and former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed.

Amal is a humanitarian by nature [and] a fierce litigator [who] takes her client’s legal battle personal[ly]… Her strategic advocacy, negotiation skills, and … access to the global diplomatic community was the main reason I was pardoned.

- Former Al Jazeera journalist, Mohamed Fahmy

Journalist Released in Tunisia

At the appeal hearing of blogger and activist Myriam Bribri, her defence team used TrialWatch’s Fairness Report to demonstrate that her trial violated her right to freedom of expression. TrialWatch also released a video ahead of her appeal in which Bribri discussed the motivations behind her prosecution. TrialWatch monitored Bribri’s case from the courtroom.

In 2022 she was convicted of “offending security officials” for reposting and commenting on a video depicting police brutality and given a 4-month prison sentence and fined 500 Dinars.

At the 2023 appeal hearing where our report was quoted, her conviction was requalified by the Court meaning she would no longer serve time in prison.

In the below video, Myriam Bribri talks to TrialWatch about her experience and case.

Blogger Acquitted in Algeria

Ahmed Manseri, an Algerian blogger and human rights activist, was acquitted after TrialWatch monitored and gave his trial a “D” grade. Mr. Manseri was charged with criminal defamation after he filed a criminal complaint alleging police abuse. His trial was marred with violations that TrialWatch exposed in one of the first cases to be monitored by an international organization in Algeria in years. The monitor reported “that the treatment of Mr. Manseri’s case differed significantly from the treatment of any other case heard that day” in that the judge took the time to ensure that Mr. Manseri’s rights were respected. And Manseri’s lawyer told CFJ they doubted Mr. Manseri would have been allowed to go home but for the presence of the monitor.

Journalist Pardoned in Morocco

TrialWatch monitored the trial of Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni and released a report exposing her sham trial. She was then freed and pardoned following the international attention drawn to her case. TrialWatch Expert Baroness Helena Kennedy KC – Director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute – graded the trial a “D”.

Ms. Raissouni – a journalist for one of Morocco’s few independent newspapers – was charged with the ‘crimes’ of abortion and extra-marital sex after reporting that was critical of the government and convicted after a sham process in which she was denied access to a lawyer.

Through my experience, I think that TrialWatch is important because it documented all events and exposed human rights violations, and this is important for political detainees who are released from prison with nothing but their dignity.

- Hajar Raissouni

Political Opposition Leader Freed and Compensated in Nigeria

REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Journalist and opposition figure Omoyele Sowore, who was detained and charged with conspiracy to commit treason after calling for a peaceful political revolution, was freed and awarded damages in Nigeria after TrialWatch monitored his trial and published a report on his case. The report found the authroities offered shifting justifications for pursuing the case and that the charges appeared to have been brought against Mr. Sowore because the protests he sought to organize were “at odds with the Buhari government’s agenda.”


REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa

Ugandan women’s rights activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi’s conviction was overturned on the basis of violations identified by a TrialWatch report submitted to a Ugandan appeals court. Dr. Nyanzi was prosecuted for posting a poem critical of the Ugandan President on Facebook in a trial which TrialWatch monitored and graded a “D”.

[Thanks to TrialWatch] my case was immediately elevated. And the prosecutors… the magistrate… they should have been on alert to know that someone else other than themselves was monitoring the process and going to give a grade.

- Dr Stella Nyanzi

LGBTQ+ activists acquitted in Poland

Polish LGBTQ+ rights activists who were prosecuted for depicting the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo on posters had their acquittal upheld by an appeals court following TrialWatch monitoring and TrialWatch Expert Professor Lisa Davis giving the trial a grade of “D”. One of the activists, Anna Prus, told the Clooney Foundation for Justice they all felt compelled to act in response to a display a church had put up for Easter which included a crucifix surrounded by wooden boxes with different sins written on them, including “LGBT” and “gender.”

In that courtroom, it wasn’t just us on one side and the Bishop and conservative politicians on the other, it felt like a battle for Poland, what kind of country Poland is going to be.

Anna Prus, one of the three co-defendants who was acquitted