Clooney Foundation For Justice


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TrialWatch® Sunlight is the best disinfectant

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. We will 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 focus on trials targeting journalists, human rights defenders, LGBTQ persons, women and girls, and religious minorities.  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, to achieve TrialWatch’s objectives.


Through the TrialWatch Project, the Clooney Foundation for Justice will:

1. Shed light on what is happening in courts all over the world

TrialWatch has 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. These monitors will be equipped with a specialized app to facilitate their reporting in a consistent way.

2. Advocate for Justice

TrialWatch will work with legal experts to assess the conduct 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 fund legal advocacy to assist a defendant in pursuing remedies in regional or international human rights courts.

3. Develop a Justice Index

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.


Trials we are monitoring or have monitored

Middle East/North Africa

  • The trial of a blogger who alleged police misconduct and spoke out about human rights on defamation charges.

Western Africa

  • The trial of a journalist prosecuted for theft-related offenses in connection with political reporting.

Eastern Africa

  • The trial of several individuals charged under anti-LGBTQ laws.

Southern Africa

  • The trial of an activist charged with subverting government in connection with a call for protests.
  • The trial of an activist charged with disobeying lawful orders in connection with protest activity.
  • The trial of a political figure on election-law-related charges.

South Asia

  • The trial of a journalist for sedition and defamation in connection with Facebook posts.

South East Asia

  • The trial of a journalist critical of the government for administrative and cyber-law offenses.


  • The trial of a journalist whose media outlet is one of the few independent of the government.
  • The trial of a journalist on misuse of information charges in connection with political reporting.
  • The trial of a journalist on terrorism-related grounds.


Visit our TrialWatch Q&A here to learn more about TrialWatch.


How to get involved

The TrialWatch Project will rely on the involvement of national partners.  If you want to become a trial monitor, or share information on your country’s criminal justice system:

Contact [email protected]

If you want to identify a trial that you believe should be monitored, let us know:



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The Clooney Foundation for Justice is developing the TrialWatch project to limit the use of the courts as a tool for oppression.

See Project

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The Clooney Foundation for Justice has sponsored the resettlement of Syrian and Yazidi refugees in the United States and will continue to offer support and assistance.

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