Where judges, lawyers, and other justice system actors are complicit in or even perpetrators of human rights violations, trial monitoring is one tactic to uphold the rule of law. Trial monitors should be impartial, providing an unbiased, accurate representation of the events throughout a trial. Observers from outside the justice system provide a new set of eyes from which to evaluate if court procedures are following international fair trial standards, and can encourage better behavior. Neutral reports allow for greater transparency of court proceedings and can be used as a tool to analyze the larger justice system and work toward reforms where needed.
This project, in particular, looks to train a group of monitors, not limited to lawyers, who are able to use a data-driven approach to trial monitoring with a global standard to rank countries on their adherence to international fair trial standards. This type of consistent and standardized strategy speaks toward a goal of making justice systems overall better, as opposed to limiting impact to one trial.
The American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights has recently expanded its trial monitoring program in partnership with the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch Project. The TrialWatch Project conducts trial monitoring worldwide in cases that present a significant risk of injustice. In particular, the project focuses on criminal trials in which courts may be used to oppress vulnerable groups, silence speech, or target political opponents.