Dear friends and supporters of CFJ,
It has been a while since our last newsletter, and as we wind down 2022 we wanted to reflect on some of our work and achievements this year. As many of you know, we founded the Clooney Foundation for Justice with two ideals in mind. The first comes from George’s father, who always said that the most important thing is to challenge people with power and defend people with no power: if you do that, you succeed in life. The second comes from the belief that justice, like war, must be waged; it doesn’t just happen on its own. CFJ is the embodiment of those ideals – our core initiatives wage justice in courtrooms and conflict zones around the world. The best way to understand our work is through this video, which we encourage you to watch:
In September we added a new dimension to our work. We hosted our inaugural ‘Albie Awards’ at the New York Public Library alongside our wonderful friend and board member, Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation. We named our ceremony the ‘Albies’, after Justice Albie Sachs who is revered for his heroic commitment to ending apartheid in South Africa. The aim of the Albies is to shine a protective light on the many courageous individuals who, at great personal risk, have devoted their lives to justice. We, alongside friends and supporters who joined us on the night, were humbled by the courage and commitment of our honorees to human rights and justice for all. It was a privilege to share their lifelong work and legacies.
John Oliver was our Master of Ceremonies. Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa performed ‘Promised Land’ and Aloe Blacc performed alongside Sing Harlem. Other notable guests included: Roberta Armani, Drew Barrymore, Tina Brown, Gemma Chan, Zoey Deutch, Anthony Edwards, Ethan Hawke, Gayle King, Richard Kind, John Krasinski, Juliana Margulies, Tracee Ellis Ross, Charlotte Tilbury, Donatella Versace, Mare Winningham, Alfre Woodard, and many others.
Our major partners included Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, Microsoft and Giorgio Armani. A full list of our generous Albies supporters is below.
Since the Albies, we’ve been asked many times how we stay hopeful when the world is in such turmoil. The answer is simple: our hope comes from our heroes who have put their lives on the line in the fight for justice, and from our friends, allies, and supporters of human rights, who are activated and ready to wage justice.
– Amal and George Clooney
At CFJ we’ve been busy – we now operate in over 40 countries. And our three initiatives are in full swing.
Waging Justice for Women
Working hand-in-hand with local women’s groups and using a data-driven approach, at Waging Justice for Women we fight for women and girls through strategic litigation. Our aim is to reform discriminatory laws and increase accountability for gender-based abuse.
Last month CFJ’s Co-Founder Amal Clooney announced an exciting collaboration with former First Lady Michelle Obama and philanthropist Melinda French Gates to support adolescent girls’ education, advance gender equality and help end child marriage. Amal was featured in a CNN documentary with Mrs. Obama and Ms. Gates on November 20th.
“I am delighted to be partnering with two formidable champions of gender equality to coordinate and scale our efforts to combat discrimination against women and girls. But today, we see repressive regimes still able to crack down on women’s basic freedoms with impunity, and girls still fighting for their most basic human rights. And in too many places, women’s rights are in retreat. So, it is important that we remain committed to the goal of unshackling half the world’s population. I am honored to be working alongside Michelle and Melinda in advancing this work and excited about the tremendous potential for progress through our collaboration.”
During UNGA, Amal spoke alongside Melinda French Gates, Olivia Leland and a host of formidable female leaders at a powerful Co-Impact and Clooney Foundation For Justice event about ‘Women in Leadership and Law’ at the Ford Foundation.
In our last newsletter we announced that the Clooney Foundation for Justice had filed a submission alongside local partners, Equality Now, and Tike Mwambipile, executive director of the Tanzania Women Lawyers’ Association, to challenge Tanzania’s policy of banning married and pregnant girls from school in a landmark case before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Tanzanian Government has already u-turned, announcing a reversal of this discriminatory policy that impacts more than 1 in 4 girls of high school age in the country.
The Docket was created to help make justice for survivors of mass atrocities a reality. The Docket team gathers evidence to trigger prosecutions and civil actions against those involved in international crimes and represents victims in their pursuit of justice.
Ukraine: The Docket is continuing its war crimes investigation in Ukraine. Since the outbreak of war, we have carried out multiple field missions across Ukraine, combined with extensive open-source intelligence gathering and cutting-edge digital forensics analysis to collect evidence and identify perpetrators. We are in the process of filing our first cases in European jurisdictions, working with the survivors and families of the victims of unlawful killing, rape, and other crimes.
DRC: CFJ is representing victims in the proceedings against former Congolese warlord Roger Lumbala in France. This will be one of the first universal jurisdiction cases in France involving crimes committed against civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Lumbala is currently indicted by the French authorities for leading an armed group, known as RCD-National, during Congo’s 1998-2003 war that allegedly committed murder, rape and torture, as well as acts of cannibalism. In close collaboration with international and local partners, CFJ has been gathering evidence to ensure that the charges represent the full scale of the criminal behavior of the group – including sexual violence – and represents victims’ interests as ‘civil parties’ in the case.
Venezuela: Last month CFJ and Venezuelan human rights organization Foro Penal, submitted evidence to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. The evidence demonstrates crimes against humanity committed by military officials of the Maduro regime in Venezuela. The report describes the role of 11 officers in committing alleged crimes including torture, arbitrary detention, and sexual abuse. Last week, together with other international NGOs, our Senior Program Manager Ignacio Jovtis was a panelist at the side event “Justice in Venezuela: Moving forward at the ICC and beyond,” at the 21st Assembly of State Parties of the International Criminal Court. He highlighted our recent evidentiary submission, encouraged the participation of victims during the proceedings at the International Criminal Court and called for more options to ensure accountability of the perpetrators.
At TrialWatch we defend the rights of journalists, democracy defenders, women, and minorities who are unjustly imprisoned following unfair trials. We monitor and grade criminal trials to expose those that are a sham; provide legal support, and develop Global Justice Rankings indexing states’ judicial systems.
Some examples of recent successes include:
Mexico: A Mexican appeal court reduced the sentence of indigenous activist Kenia Hernandez after a TrialWatch report highlighted the flaws in Hernandez’ trial. Following the report, the UN has also called for her conviction to be overturned.
Morocco: In Morocco, TrialWatch exposed flaws in criminal proceedings against investigative journalist Omar Radi along with our partners the USC Law School. Our expert from USC, Professor Hannah Garry, gave the trial a grade of ‘D.’ Radi was convicted of national security charges and rape despite not being allowed to call a key witness to support his defense, or to question the prosecution’s main witness on the rape charge. Listen to Professor Garry describe how the case is further evidence of a pattern in Morocco of using shame-inducing charges to stifle critical reporting and political dissent. TrialWatch has shared the report with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to read as it is currently considering Mr. Radi’s case.
Indonesia: In Indonesia, TrialWatch submitted an amicus brief to the Indonesian Supreme Court supporting journalist Muhammad Asrul’s challenge to his conviction for cyber defamation after an unfair trial that we monitored. TrialWatch Expert Professor Simon Butt said the proceedings evidenced a “type of aggressive use of [Indonesia’s cybercrime] Law [that] has no place in a democracy”. The challenge before the Supreme Court is pending. This case provides a critical opportunity for the Court to clarify the protections to which journalists should be entitled.
The Albie Awardees
Justice Albie Sachs
Lifetime Achievement in the Pursuit of Justice
Justice Albie Sachs himself was presented with a ‘Lifetime Achievement In Pursuit of Justice Award by former First Lady, Michelle Obama. Click here to watch our short film about Albie Sachs and click here to watch Albie’s acceptance speech.
In presenting Justice Sachs with his award Michelle Obama reminded us that: “Albie taught us the power of those three little letters – why. He used them to help transform his own country and in doing so, he challenged us to use them to transform our own. That’s what we honor tonight—not just a single man’s legacy of progress but the possibility of progress that’s yet to be written, possibility that lies inside all of us.”
“It’s not enough that we liberate the justice system from its own imperfections, that sense of humanity has to be there. And George and Amal I feel that so strongly in everything that you do,” said Justice Albie Sachs when receiving his award.
Justice for Journalists
The formidable Filipino journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa was awarded the Justice For Journalists Award by Meryl Streep for her reporting exposing government corruption and human rights violations in the Philippines. Maria is a client of Amal Clooney and currently faces a lifetime behind bars. Click here to watch our short film about Maria Ressa. Click here to watch Meryl Streep’s speech before presenting Maria her award and click here to watch Maria’s acceptance speech.
Alfateh “Oumda” Younous Haroun for iAct
Justice for Survivors
iAct member, Alfateh “Oumda” Younous Haroun was awarded the Justice For Survivors Award by Dua Lipa and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Nadia Murad for iAct’s work alongside survivors of genocide and other mass atrocities including refugees from the conflict in Darfur. Oumda himself lost 45 family members in the conflict. Click here to watch our short film about iAct. Click here to watch Dua Lipa and Nadia Murad’s speech before presenting Oumda with this award and click here to watch Oumda’s acceptance speech.
Alina Stefanovic for Viasna
Justice for Democracy Defenders
Alina Stefanovich, human rights activist and wife of political prisoner Valiantsin Stefanovic, accepted the Justice For Democracy Defenders Award on behalf of Viasna. Viasna has spent years defending freedom in the face of authoritarianism in Belarus. Oscar Isaac presented Alina with this award. Days later Viasna’s chairperson, Ales Bialiatski was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Click here to watch our short film about Viasna. Click here to watch Oscar Isaac’s speech. Click here to watch Alina read a letter from her husband in prison in Belarus.
Dr. Josephine Kulea on behalf of Samburu Girls Foundation
Justice for Women
Dr. Josephine Kulea was presented the Justice For Women award on behalf of the Samburu Girls Foundation by Julia Roberts. The Samburu Girls Foundation rescues girls from child marriage and other harms. In the decade since Samburu was founded, over 1,500 girls have been rescued and 491 are currently being sponsored in schools around the country. Click here to watch our short film about the Samburu Girls Foundation. Click here to watch Julia Robert’s speech before presenting Dr. Josephine with this award and click here to watch Dr. Josephine’s acceptance speech.
We couldn’t complete a reflection on The Albies without thanking our partners, supporters, and donors.
Sentinel: Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, George and Amal Clooney
Champion: Microsoft, Brad Smith and Kathy Surace-Smith
Guardian: Anonymous, Giorgio Armani
Defender: Bank of America, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Burberry, Ebs Burnough and Pierre Lagrange, CISCO, Creative Artists Agency, Steve Ells, Agnes Gund, The History Channel, Joan Ganz Cooney and Holly Peterson Fund, Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg, Alex Kuczynski, Joshua Mailman and Monica Winsor, Nespresso, Pepsico, Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), Amanda Taylor, Laurie M. Tisch, Geralyn White Dreyfus, Anna Wintour
Advocate: Covington & Burling LLP, Crowell & Moring LLP, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Morgan Lewis, Marco V. Masotti, Orrick, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Sidley, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Wilkinson Stekloff LLP
Supporters: Tom & Andi Bernstein, Chanel, Susan Cohn Rockefeller & David Rockefeller, David Geffen Foundation, David & Nina Fialkow, Bennett Goodman, Greenberg Traurig, Andrew & Ellen Hauptman, Robert & Kym Herjavec, The IAC Foundation, Latham & Watkins, Catie Marron, Schultz Family Foundation, Darian & Rick Swig, Sarosh Zafar, Will Zeckendorf
As we head into 2023, we already have many projects planned. Keep an eye out for our upcoming TrialWatch reports on trials of protestors in Thailand in January. The Docket will continue its essential work gathering evidence of international crimes in Ukraine. We are also excited to start recruiting for our Waging Justice for Women Fellowships in the new year! Watch this space for more details about the application process.