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Fair Trials Clinic

Amsterdam Law Clinics

Through the Fair Trials Clinic, the Amsterdam Law Clinics will participate in TrialWatch, an initiative of the Clooney Foundation for Justice. The Clinic will also work with Lawyers for Lawyers to implement the Clinic’s collaboration with TrialWatch. TrialWatch is an initiative to monitor and respond to trials around the world that pose a significant risk of violating human rights. In the Fair Trials clinic, we will monitor trials in various European countries. Learn more about TrialWatch and what it means to participate in the Fair Trials Clinic.

What is TrialWatch?

TrialWatch is an ambitious and global initiative of the Clooney Foundation for Justice. It monitors trials where there is a risk of a human rights violations and publishes reports evaluating the trials’ fairness and engages in related advocacy. Broadly, the project aims to bring transparency and accountability to the trial process and governments’ use of the court system to punish dissent, with a focus on trials where the trial procedures violate fair trial standards, the charges conflict with human rights law or the prosecution is used to target and punish government critics.

Working with a range of partners around the world, TrialWatch aims to professionalize and scale the practice of trial monitoring, while also involving lawyers and non-lawyers in monitoring trials in their own communities. In the spring of 2019, TrialWatch launched an online, interactive trial monitoring training, developed in collaboration with, and approved by, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and is now training monitors from around the world. TrialWatch is also deploying technology, including a specialized app, to facilitate data collection and ensure it is collected in a standardized manner to help track trends and practices in prosecutions and trial outcomes around the world. This will facilitate the grading and comparison of trials, and, ultimately, a ranking of justice systems as a whole.

Partnership with the Fair Trials Clinic

Beginning in September 2019, the Clooney Foundation for Justice and Amsterdam Law School formed a partnership to work together on TrialWatch. In the Fair Trials Clinic, students will work on trial monitoring projects, under the supervision of Amsterdam Law School Faculty staff and Lawyers for Lawyers. Lawyers for Lawyers has long-time experience in monitoring trials around the world against lawyers who are  prosecuted or face economic, administrative or disciplinary sanctions as reprisal for or in connection with exercising their legitimate professional duties. The office of Lawyers for Lawyers is based in the Law Hub of Amsterdam Law School.

Your role as a clinic student for the Fair Trials Clinic

Students who are selected to participate in the Fair Trials Clinic will work on this novel and ambitious initiative. The students will be involved in identifying trials to monitor, conducting background research on the trial as well as the domestic laws and procedures, monitoring trials, and drafting reports in conjunction with human rights law experts. Each semester, a small team of 2-3 students will travel for a few days to a selected country in Europe to monitor a trial. This will be conducted under guidance of Lawyers for Lawyers, which is based in the Law Hub of Amsterdam Law School.

Students will therefore get the unique opportunity to work with worldwide experts and lawyers, enhance their knowledge of various national legal systems and substantive legal issues including fair trial rights, due process, and freedom of expression, while gaining hands-on experience and working on projects that could really improve the lives and situations of defendants who face unfair trials.

Requirements and eligibility

In addition to the regular course of the Amsterdam Law Clinics, students participating in the Fair Trials Clinic will have to complete an online training programme (6-10 hours) as developed by TrialWatch. Students will receive a certificate for completion of the training.

All Master’s students are eligible to apply. Other than fluency in English, there are no language skills required. However, as we may be monitoring in countries such as Turkey, Poland, Serbia, and Hungary, knowledge of these languages will be useful. We select those students who can demonstrate in their application a strong commitment to this project, as it is both very intense but also extremely rewarding and a unique experience.