Human Rights

The ABA announced on Wednesday that is partnering with the Clooney Foundation for Justice and Columbia Law School to “monitor trials around the world that pose a high risk of human rights violations.”

The program, set to launch next year, is known as TrialWatch, according to an ABA press release and the Clooney Foundation for Justice website.

The program will use trained trial monitors and specialized technology. Legal experts will analyze the information to grade the trials according to international fair trial standards. Trial monitors don’t have to be lawyers.

Trials selected will include those that could oppress vulnerable groups, silence speech or target political opponents.

TrialWatch also will gather support and awareness for defendants whose rights are violated, and it will develop a “Justice Index” that documents and ranks “national courts’ adherence to human rights and fair-trial standards.”

Although some groups already monitor trials on an ad hoc basis, “there is no comprehensive global program scrutinizing the courts of the world,” according to the Clooney Foundation for Justice. The group was created in late 2016 by international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and her husband, actor George Clooney.

ABA President Bob Carlson praised the involvement of the Clooney Foundation for Justice. “A fair legal process is essential for court systems to deliver justice,” Carlson said in the press release. The ABA is proud to collaborate “to help institutionalize trial monitoring and bring more watchful eyes to the world’s courtrooms,” he said.

Amal Clooney joined Columbia Law School in 2015 as a visiting professor and a senior fellow at its Human Rights Institute. With support from Microsoft, the law school is also hosting a TrialWatch legal fellow to help strengthen the group of trial monitors and study how to leverage the trial monitoring data.