The American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights recently expanded its trial monitoring program in partnership with the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch Project. Around the world, the space for dissent is shrinking, as journalists, human rights advocates, and representatives of marginalized communities increasingly face frivolous criminal charges in an effort to stymie their work. The TrialWatch initiative conducts trial monitoring worldwide in cases that present a significant risk of injustice. In particular, the initiative focuses on criminal trials in which courts may be used to oppress vulnerable groups, silence speech, or target political opponents.
The Center for Human Rights is actively seeking pro bono trial observers to monitor criminal proceedings on behalf of the TrialWatch initiative. Observers do not need a background in the law or previous experience in monitoring trials. The Center will provide observers with the necessary training. Observers will have the opportunity to travel to different countries and serve as the Center’s eyes and ears on the ground. Thus far, observers have monitored trials in countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Cambodia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Uganda, and India.
Your role as an observer will have a concrete impact. The monitoring of trials has contributed to the release of defendants; much needed publicity, ensuring that defendants are not forgotten; and follow-up advocacy such as litigation and submissions to international and regional mechanisms. Find information about the trials the Center has monitored here: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/human_rights/reports/
Foreign languages are preferred, but not required. All expenses related to monitoring will be covered by the Center. Monitors will be given the opportunity to obtain official certification by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as a trial monitor.