Please see below for examples of the Center's public work involving human rights defenders as part of the Clooney Foundation for Justice TrialWatch Initiative.
In January 2019, Algerian activist Ahmed Manseri was prosecuted in connection with his allegedly false claim that he had been tortured by the police. Although the court ultimately acquitted Mr. Manseri, the trial was marred by violations of international fair trial standards and the state has yet to adequately respond to his credible account of abuse. Meanwhile, the threat of state persecution remains. Exacerbating this risk, there are indications that the prosecution may have been initiated due to Mr. Manseri’s human rights advocacy. Troublingly, Mr. Manseri’s lawyer, Salah Dabouz, was also subject to harassment at the hands of the state.
In late April 2019, the Center monitored criminal proceedings in Guatemala against indigenous land rights advocate Abelino Chub. Mr. Chub was charged with burning down trees and fields on a plantation operated by Cobra Investments, a banana and palm company located in the Izabal region of Guatemala. Cobra is a partner company of CXI S.A., which joined the proceedings as a private complainant. While Mr. Chub was ultimately acquitted and the trial itself was largely compliant with fair trial standards, Mr. Chub’s unjustified pretrial detention constituted a gross violation of human rights and there are indicia that his prosecution was motivated by improper considerations.
From March to August 2019, the Center monitored the criminal trial of academic and prominent women’s and LGBTQ rights activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi. Ms. Nyanzi was prosecuted on the basis of a poem she posted on Facebook in which she suggested that Uganda would have been better served if President Museveni had never been born. She was convicted of cyber-harassment in a trial that the Center found was compromised by serious violations of her right to prepare a defense and right to call and examine witnesses. Defense counsel submitted the Center's report on appeal, Ms. Nyanzi's conviction was overturned, and she was released.