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Fair Trials Clinic

Amsterdam Law Clinics

The students in the Fair Trials Clinic monitor trials in various European countries. Through a partnership with the Clooney Foundation for Justice, the Fair Trials Clinic participates in TrialWatch. TrialWatch is an initiative to monitor and respond to trials around the world that pose a significant risk of violating human rights. The students work together with the NGO Lawyers for Lawyers to carry out their monitoring activities.

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, 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 in which the procedures violate fair trial standards, the charges conflict with human rights law or 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 also deploys 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 Clooney Foundation for Justice and Lawyers for Lawyers 

In September 2019, the Clooney Foundation for Justice and the Amsterdam Law School formed a partnership to work together on the TrialWatch initiative. In addition, the Fair Trials Clinic works together with  Lawyers for Lawyers, on trial monitoring projects.. Lawyers for Lawyers has extensive 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 Lawyers for Lawyers’ office is based in the Law Hub of the Amsterdam Law School.

Lawyers for Lawyers

Clinical work as a clinic student for the Fair Trials Clinic

Students in the Fair Trials Clinic will work on this novel and ambitious initiative. Students work in teams of around 3 students under close supervision of University staff and will be involved in identifying trials to monitor, conducting background research on the trial and the domestic laws and procedures, monitoring trials, and drafting reports in conjunction with human rights law experts. Each semester, if the situation allows,  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.

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 improve the lives and situations of defendants who face unfair trials.

Our Clinical Programme

Experiences from former clinic students

Nathalie Vainio
Copyright: FdR
The clinic work highlighted the vulnerability of effective human rights protection (such as the right to a fair trial) and how easily these rights can be violated in the pursuit of political gain – even by democratically elected leaders in the EU. I would recommend the Fair Trials Clinic to anyone aspiring to work on a meaningful project while gaining valuable hands-on legal experience. Nathalie Vainio (FTC Fall '19)

Recent News

Read the latest news about the Amsterdam Law Clinics, the Amsterdam Law Practice and the Amsterdam Law Hub.

Contact Us

Ms J.K. (Jindan - Karena) Mann

Faculty of Law

Criminal Law

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. 

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, Ukraine, 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.

How to Apply

Please submit your application, in English, by sending an e-mail to amsterdamlawclinics@uva.nl addressed to Ms. Rosa Lokin-Möhrlein, LL.M., indicating in the subject-line ‘Application Amsterdam Law Clinics – [your name]’ Your application must include: 

  • Your CV or resume (max. 2 pages);
  • An overview of relevant courses and grades from courses you have taken at the University of Amsterdam or other universities;
  • A sample of 1 - 5 pages (maximum 10) of your own writing in Dutch or English related to your studies;
  • An analysis responding to the questions below, in a word document that has your signature and indicating place and date:
    • Why are you interested in taking part in the Amsterdam Law Clinics, and more specifically in the clinics you have listed as your preferences? (max 400 words)
    • In your opinion what is one of the most impressive public interest law case you have come across that has been dealt with in the courts? Why is this case of such importance? What would you have done differently? (max 400 words)
  • Indication of preferences. The Amsterdam Law Clinics strive to ensure that as many students as possible are given the opportunity to participate in a clinic during their Master. We cannot ensure admission to a particular clinic and the application and selection process for the clinics is competitive. We recommend students to list in the email that accompanies their application at least 3 clinics ranked in order of interest. 

If selected for the clinic of first choice, selection is binding.

Deadline for Application:

  • First semester: 19 June 2020
  • Second semester: 16 November 2020

Depending on the amount of cases and projects, Clinics may decide to issue an additional call for applications at the end of December 2020. We advise students who are interested and who missed the deadline to keep themselves informed on these potential additional calls through the website of the Amsterdam Law Clinics.   

Contact with former Clinic students

If you're interested in more hands-on information about the clinic and experiences from former Fair Trials Clinic students, you can contact any of the following former students. Send an e-mail to amsterdamlawclinics@uva.nl and we will provide you with the relevant contact information.

  • Nathalie Vainio (Fall semester '19)
  • Anna Kohte (Spring semester '20)
  • Elizabeth Cazzadore (Spring semester '20)