In partnership with the American Bar Association and Columbia Law School, the Clooney Foundation for Justice has announced a joint initiative aimed at promoting the right to a fair trial and greater transparency in courtroom proceedings around the world.
The TrialWatch initiative will focus on training a global cadre of trial monitors to report on legal proceedings — including trials designed to oppress vulnerable groups, silence speech, and target political opponents — using specialized technology. A team of legal experts will then analyze the information and grade the trials according to their compliance with international fair trial standards.
Through its partnership with Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute and Human Rights Clinic, the initiative will work to strengthen the global community of trial monitors and advocates; conduct research on how to best leverage trial monitoring data; and help develop a data-driven "Justice Index" that ranks countries' performance. With support from Microsoft, Columbia Law also will host a TrialWatch Legal Fellow to work with students to conduct trial monitoring and advocacy, document trends in trial abuses, and engage other academics in advancing the initiative's goals.
"Today, courts all over the world are used as tools of oppression," said Amal Clooney, co-founder and president of the Clooney Foundation for Justice, who joined the Columbia Law School faculty in 2015 as a visiting professor and is a senior fellow with the Human Rights Institute. "Governments get away too easily with imprisoning opposition figures, silencing critics, and persecuting vulnerable groups through the courts. Trial monitoring will shine a light on these abuses and enable us to fight injustice when we see it. We are proud to partner with Columbia Law School and the American Bar Association as we work to advance justice around the world."