Our Impact – Women

CFJ’s TrialWatch initiative is the only organization in the world systematically monitoring trials against women and conducting advocacy to remedy abuse. Meanwhile, The Docket’s investigations have a core focus on gender violence built in to them. Through a combination of focused monitoring of trials involving women, and on-the-ground investigations into human rights abuses and their impact on women, CFJ is uniquely placed to have long term impact on women’s access to justice.


Stella Nyanzi

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.

Stella Nyanzi, Ugandan women’s rights activist

After a blatantly unfair trial that was given a ‘D’ by TrialWatch experts, an appeals court in Uganda threw out Stella Nyanzi’s conviction for ‘cyber harassment’ after posting a poem on facebook that criticized the president.

The conviction was thrown out partly on the basis that the defense team did not have adequate time to prepare a defense. The finding echoed the TrialWatch Fairness Report, which concluded that the trial court ‘violated Dr. Nyanzi’s right to call and examine witnesses and, correspondingly, her right to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of a defense.

Hajar Raissouni

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, Moroccan Journalist

Ms. Raissouni was charged with the ‘crimes’ of abortion and sex outside of marriage.  She was forced to undergo a non-consensual medical exam, denied access to a lawyer, and interrogated by officers who asked about her journalism rather than the alleged crimes. While she was initially convicted on all charges and sentenced to one year in prison, after TrialWatch and others spoke out, the King of Morocco pardoned her.

Gulzhan Pasanova

We hope the UN will take prompt action—not only to remedy the violations in this particular case, but to urge Kyrgyzstan to reform how it handles trials involving survivors of domestic violence.

Stephen Townley, Legal Director of TrialWatch

Gulzhan Pasanova was convicted of causing bodily harm resulting in death to her husband resulting in his death in 2020. A forensic medical examination after her arrest showed evidence of previous physical abuse. She says that on the night in question her husband physically attacked her, threw a knife at her, and threatened to kill her. Fearing for her life, she picked up a steel bar and struck her husband on the head. In May 2020, CFJ filed an amicus brief in support of Ms. Pasanova’s appeal, arguing that the trial court violated her rights under international human rights law and urging the appeal court to overturn her conviction. Following this intervention, her sentence was lowered to 6 years in prison, which she is currently serving. TrialWatch has also filed an amicus brief supporting her appeal and we are now taking her case to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Reproductive Rights in El Salvador

In light of the findings of the Inter-American Court, El Salvador must acknowledge the confluence of factors that led to the wrongful convictions of those women currently incarcerated for their obstetric emergencies, and release them promptly.

Juliet Sorensen - TrialWatch expert

Based on TrialWatch monitoring of two cases of women charged with aggravated homicide in El Salvador for obstetric emergencies, CFJ and The Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law filed an amicus brief with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights supporting a test case challenging El Salvador’s criminalization of pregnancy loss.  The brief seeks to show how these prosecutions are often based on gender stereotypes regarding what a mother should be capable of doing (for instance, the sense that women should somehow be able to prevent miscarriage or loss in childbirth, and that otherwise they are a ‘bad mother’), or disapproval of sex outside of marriage (for instance, in one of the two cases monitored by TrialWatch, the hospital shared the defendant’s sexual history with the authorities).  We expect a decision in this case soon.

Dian Abdullah

content pending – waiting for a decision – update before launch