Courts are increasingly being used as a tool of oppression. In many countries, prosecutors and judges are used to imprison government critics and minorities.
In other places, a judge’s rulings can be purchased by the highest bidder. Judges can also be complicit in grave human rights abuses when they convict for ‘crimes’ such as homosexuality or blasphemy, or when they ignore the due process rights of defendants. Yet judges and prosecutors are rarely held to account. In some countries, courtrooms are closed. And even where trials are open to the public, proceedings can be long, convoluted and hard to understand.
In response to these pressing needs, the Clooney Foundation for Justice has developed an initiative focused on monitoring and responding to trials around the world that pose a high risk of human rights violations. As an esteemed U.S. Supreme Court Justice once noted, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” We will therefore monitor trials in which the law may be used to target a minority or silence a government critic, meaning that there is a likelihood of a politicized, unfair trial. We will work to expose injustice and rally support to secure justice for defendants whose rights have been violated.
We are partnering with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the American Bar Association, Columbia Law School, and Microsoft Corporation, to achieve TrialWatch’s objectives.
Through the TrialWatch Project, the Clooney Foundation for Justice will:
TrialWatch has partnered with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to develop an interactive trial monitoring training based on international human rights standards. The training program and materials, are available here (and soon will be available in multiple languages). We have also partnered with the American Bar Association to recruit and train trial monitors, including non-lawyers, who can observe and report on criminal trials around the world.
Trial monitors will be deployed to observe and report on criminal trials around the world. These monitors will be equipped with a specialized app we have developed with Microsoft that will facilitate their reporting in a consistent way.
TrialWatch will work with legal experts to assess the fairness of trials according to international human rights standards. We will share the reports with international lawyers, journalists, diplomats and members of civil society who can advocate on behalf of the defendants and where appropriate we will conduct or fund legal advocacy to assist a defendant in pursuing remedies in regional or international human rights courts.
TrialWatch will gather data that will contribute to a justice index documenting national courts’ adherence to human rights and fair trial standards. This will rank countries according to the fairness of their justice system based on the data that is gathered through TrialWatch monitoring.
Visit our TrialWatch Q&A to learn more about TrialWatch.
TrialWatch is global in scope and focused on trials targeting journalists, LGBTQ persons, women and girls, religious minorities, and human rights defenders.
The world is becoming increasingly authoritarian, and authoritarian leaders are increasingly using courts to consolidate their power. Although the judiciary is often the best protection against abuses of power, compliant or corrupt judges can also be a tool to stifle dissent and oppress minorities...Learn More