TrialWatch is the first initiative of its kind. We expose injustice, help to free those unjustly detained, and promote the rule of law around the world. TrialWatch monitors criminal trials globally against those who are most vulnerable — including journalists, protesters, women, LGBTQ+ persons and minorities — and advocates for the rights of the unfairly convicted. Until TrialWatch there was no comprehensive global program scrutinizing the courts of the world.
Our approach is not limited to individual cases. TrialWatch gathers data from each trial it monitors that will form the Global Justice Ranking™, an index documenting national courts’ adherence to human rights and fair trial standards which can be taken into account by governments and investors intending to do business in that country. This will evaluate countries according to the fairness of their justice system based on the data that is gathered through TrialWatch monitoring. We will also seek to galvanize systemic change, by encouraging states to be more transparent, and ultimately by measuring and publicizing states’ performance on the Global Justice Ranking.
The world is becoming increasingly authoritarian, and authoritarian leaders increasingly use courts to consolidate their power. The judiciary is supposed to protect against abuses of power, but corrupt or compliant judges can be complicit in silencing dissent, undermining democracy and oppressing minorities. Yet little is known about the human rights abuses occurring in courts. While most trials are open, many proceedings are long, complex and involve a foreign language, which means that abuses take place in the dark. This is made worse when trials take place behind closed doors.
As the only comprehensive, global program monitoring trials for injustice, and active in over 35 countries, TrialWatch is filling this gap. We send monitors into courtrooms to document everything about a case – including whether someone has access to a lawyer and if the judge seems biased. Monitoring means bringing the eyes and ears of the world to a courtroom that may be in a remote location, or where a defendant’s life may be on the line.
TrialWatch monitors are lawyers, retired judges, law students, journalists, human rights defenders or interested members of the public: anyone who completes our training can qualify to be a monitor.
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.Moroccan Journalist Hajar Raissouni
Since our launch in April 2019, TrialWatch has already monitored trials in more than 35 countries and in every region of the world. We have covered over 40 cases against journalists, in which they have been charged with offenses like criminal defamation and insult, ‘fake news,’ and violating national security, and the crackdowns in Hong Kong, Belarus, Turkey and India.
TrialWatch’s work involves three main stages: monitoring, evaluation, and advocacy, including deploying legal tools to get sentences reduced or verdicts thrown out. Each of these plays a part in preventing or remedying abuses:
When we detect a global trend, either through our trial monitoring or in close collaboration with our partners, we set about gathering evidence of these injustices and seeking to overturn the unfair laws that support them in a series of special projects.