Posts Tagged ‘Amal Clooney’

Progress with the TrialWatch app of the Clooney Foundation

September 10, 2019

Illegitimate judicial proceedings are increasingly being used as a ‘rule-of-law-shield’ to fend off legitimate criticism,” says David Pressman, the Executive Director of the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ). No overall system exists to monitor the fairness of trials around the world: some cases receive media attention and are well documented, whereas others are only followed by local activists. To bridge this gap, the CFJ, founded in June 2016, set up TrialWatch, an international monitoring program. Launched in April 2019, TrialWatch trains individuals in the basics of trial-monitoring, and equips them with the TrialWatch app, developed with Microsoft, to help them collect information about trials of interest in their areas. That information is then passed on to legal experts, such as international human rights lawyers, who assess it and write fairness reports. In time, this will contribute to a global justice index, ranking countries by the fairness of their legal system.

By early May 2019, TrialWatch was already monitoring 18 trials around the world, from Nigeria to Belarus, a number which the organisation wants to increase. “TrialWatch aims to solve the challenge of scaling trial-monitoring,” says Pressman. Trial-monitoring has been used by legal experts and lawyers for many years, because it increases transparency, creates a simplified record of the trial, and can facilitate reform. To make it easier to become a monitor, the CFJ developed a new set of guidelines accessible to non-experts, which were approved by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the American Bar Association and Columbia Law School.

The TrialWatch smartphone app gives trial-monitors the tools to collect essential information, and store it securely in one place. The training that trial-monitors receive helps ensure that they record the right information, and straightforward yes/no questionnaires help them speed up collection. Within the app, trial-monitors can also take photos, shoot videos, and record audio – which is useful, given that many of the monitored trials happen in languages which aren’t widely spoken. Audio files are transcribed in the original language and then translated into English by Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services. All that is securely uploaded to the cloud, to be pored over by the CFJ’s legal experts.

Our hope is that TrialWatch can help expose states when they fall short,” Pressman says . “It can demonstrate the ways that states are instrumentalising the courts in an effort to legitimise human rights abuses.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/amal-clooney-trialwatch-app

TrialWatch officially launched by Clooneys

April 25, 2019

As announced earlier this year [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/15/star-power-for-good-george-and-amal-clooney-at-least-try-to-tackle-controversial-issues/] on 25 April 2019 the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ), together with partners Microsoft Corporation, Columbia Law School, the American Bar Association, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), launched their TrialWatch® initiative at an inaugural TrialWatch Conference and launch event.

Clooney Foundation For Justice Logo

Courts around the world are increasingly being used to silence dissidents and target the vulnerable. But so far there has been no systematic response to this,” said Amal Clooney, Co-President, Clooney Foundation for Justice. “The Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch program is a global initiative to monitor trials, expose abuses, and advocate for victims, so that injustice can be addressed, one case at a time.”

TrialWatch is an initiative focused on monitoring and responding to trials around the world that pose a high risk of human rights violations. TrialWatch aims to be the first comprehensive global program scrutinizing criminal trials around the world. CFJ will recruit and train trial monitors, including non-lawyers, who can observe and report on criminal trials around the world, and use a specialised app to record the proceedings. The Clooney Foundation for Justice will then work to expose injustice and rally support to secure justice for defendants whose rights have been violated. For each trial monitored, CFJ will work with an eminent legal expert to produce a Fairness Report assessing and grading the fairness of the trial against human rights standards, and, where necessary and possible, will be followed up with legal advocacy to assist a defendant in pursuing remedies in regional or international human rights courts. Ultimately, the data that is gathered will populate a global justice index that measures states’ performance in this area.

TrialWatch will focus on trials involving journalists, LGBTQ persons, women and girls, religious minorities, and human rights defenders. In recent months, TrialWatch monitors have observed proceedings in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. The cases have involved journalists being prosecuted under a wide variety of laws, including cyber laws, administrative laws, and terrorism laws, in six countries. TrialWatch has covered a trial of individuals being prosecuted under anti-LGBTQ laws in sub-Saharan Africa and proceedings involving a journalist detained under India’s National Security Act for criticizing the government on social media. TrialWatch monitors are also monitoring the trial of a lawyer in Eurasia, who is being prosecuted in connection with his work on behalf of human rights defenders and the trial of a journalist in Nigeria, who is being prosecuted for writing about internal government documents and refusing to reveal his source. Fairness reports are being produced to assess each of these trials, and many more trials will be monitored on an ongoing basis around the world.

CFJ has partnered with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to develop an online training course for monitors. This course was developed by CFJ and approved by OHCHR.

——

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/clooney-foundation-justice-convenes-human-rights-leaders-mark-103100664.html?

Star power for good: George and Amal Clooney at least try to tackle controversial issues

March 15, 2019

On 16 March 2019 Belinda Goldsmith reports for the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Edinburgh how celebrity couple George and Amal Clooney say they want to use their star power to push for justice globally for women, children, LGBT+ people, religious minorities and journalists. Too many celebrities simply ignore these (controversial) issues and focus instead on less complicated charity work or – worse – serve the human rights violators by lending their name [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/31/amnesty-international-calls-on-golfers-not-to-play-the-saudi-propaganda-game/]

The couple’s Clooney Foundation for Justice, set up in 2016, plans to this year launch, TrialWatch, a project to monitor trials and create an index to track which countries are using courtrooms to oppress minorities and government critics. Amal Clooney, an international human rights lawyer, said it was important to expose injustices and the countries using courts to target vulnerable people, human rights defenders and press freedom. “We now have the highest number of journalists in jail in the world since records began,” she told a charity gala organized by the People’s Postcode Lottery in Edinburgh. [See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/10/16/amal-clooney-speaks-about-the-maldives-at-ai-side-event/]

The Clooneys said they were both committed to using their fame to raise awareness about human rights abuses and corruption. Amal Clooney said her job was less glamorous than it might seem as it mainly involved piling through vast amounts of paperwork but their fame could be used to their advantage. [See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/02/26/george-clooney-speaks-out-on-sexual-violence-in-darfur/]

Her actor husband also played down the glamor of fame, joking about being the father of one-year-old twins, but acknowledged that he had always been determined to use the public spotlight to do good. “I didn’t grow up wealthy,” he said. “If you end up getting lucky, you should share that luck.

Maldives’ Mohamed Nasheed: from human rights defender to president to exile

June 26, 2017

On 23 Jun 2017 the Human Rights Foundation published the above video from its May Oslo Freedom Forum. Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed was first arrested for founding an underground newspaper when he was just 17 years old. This, however, wasn’t the last time the former president would be punished for his activism. Describing his journey from democracy dissident to president of the Maldives to ousted leader championing human rights in exile, President Nasheed shares how he perseveres despite the many challenges he has faced. Although the fight for freedom is difficult, he tells us not to give up – because that’s exactly what the dictators want you to do: “Giving up is exactly what the dictators want you to do. It’s why they jail, beat, and torture. It’s why they fine newspapers and murder people who speak out. We can only beat them by not giving in.”
https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/10/16/amal-clooney-speaks-about-the-maldives-at-ai-side-event/
see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/maldives/

Azerbaijan releases human rights defenders bit by bit: Khadijah Ismayilova now free

May 27, 2016

Khadija IsmayilovaOn Wednesday 25 May 2016 Azerbaijan finally released investigative journalist Khadijah Ismayilova [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/azerbaijan-khadija-ismayilova-remains-in-jail-but-council-of-europe-takes-exceptional-step/] after a number of other human rights defenders were released bit by bit over the last months. Ismayilova was serving a seven-and-a-half year sentence on charges which included embezzlement, illegal business activities and tax evasion. The Supreme Court has now amended her imprisonment to 3 1/2 years of suspended sentence and released her from prison. She vowed to continue to fight to clear her name. “I will continue to fight until complete acquittal,” Ismayilova told reporters after her release. “I will also continue to work as a journalist.” The British-Lebanese lawyer Amal Clooney is representing Khadija Ismayilova at the European Court of Human Rights.

As an independent reporter and journalist of the Azerbaijani radio Azadliq (“Radio Freedom”) she has shown great courage (see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/khadija-ismayilova-azerbaijan-is-not-deterred/), and received several international prizes, such as the 2015 Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism (HRW), the 2015 Freedom to Write Award, the 2012 Fritt Ord/Zeit Press Prize, and the 2012 Courage of Journalism Award by the Washington-based International Women’s Media Foundation.

Although there are still human rights defenders and journalists in prison, Azerbaijan provides a fine example of how awards and the combined international pressure from a variety of sources (States, NGOs and international organizations) can have an impact:

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/azerbaijan-pardon-jafarov-ismayilova-aliyev/

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/released-intigam-aliyev-azerbaijan-civil-rights-defender-of-the-year-award/

Source:

Reuters – Azerbaijan frees journalist whose case raised outcry in West

https://www.cpj.org/2016/05/-azerbaijani-reporter-khadija-ismayilova-ordered-r.php

In Azerbaijan, many releases but not Intigam Aliyev and Ismayilova

March 18, 2016

This blog has had many occasions to be negative about Azerbaijan [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/azerbaijan/], but this time some good news: President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan signed a decree yesterday (17 March 2016) for the Novruz holiday, pardoning 148 prisoners, among them thirteen journalists, human rights defenders and activists. 2014_Azerbaijan_Jaforov

Human rights defender Rasul Jafarov at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Baku in June 2014.  ©2014 Aziz Karimov

The list includes: human rights campaigner Rasul Jafarov; the head of a local election monitoring group Anar Mammadli; youth activists from NIDA movement Rashad Hasanov, Rashadat Akhundov, Mammad Azizov, and Omar Mammadov; human rights defenders Taleh Khasmamedov and Hilal Mammadov; opposition Musavat party deputy chair Tofig Yagublu; journalists Parviz Hashimli and Yadigar Mammadli; also a blogger Siraj Karimov. Also today, the Baku Appeals Court converted a six-year prison sentence imposed on journalist Rauf Mirgadirov to a five-year suspended term, and released him from the courtroom.

While this is a great moment for those released, among those still behind bars on bogus charges are: political analyst Ilgar Mammadov, in defiance of the European Court of Human Rights decision on his case and the repeated calls by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers to free him; human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev; and Azerbaijan’s prominent investigative journalist, Khadija Ismayilova. Also youth activist Ilkin Rustamzadeh and journalist Seymur Hazi.

We are overjoyed for the journalists, human rights defenders, and activists who were released today after being imprisoned for exercising their basic rights of free speech and free assembly,” said Nenad Pejic, Radio Free Europe editor in chief. “But Khadija should have been among them”. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/azerbaijan-khadija-ismayilova-remains-in-jail-but-council-of-europe-takes-exceptional-step/] In recent correspondence with RFE/RL, international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who will represent Ismayilova before the European Court of Human Rights, said that “the case involved a politically motivated prosecution to restrict [Ismayilova’s] freedom of speech… This is about a government that is abusing its power to silence journalists like Khadija, as well as other critics of the ruling regime.

 

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/03/17/dispatches-good-news-azerbaijan-change

In Azerbaijan, No Pardon For Ismayilova

Amal Clooney speaks about the Maldives at AI side event

October 16, 2015

In this video (published on 14 October 2015) human rights lawyer Amal Clooney tells Amnesty International why she has taken up the case of former President Mohamed Nasheed, former president of the Maldives who was jailed for 13 years on terrorism charges. This hasty trial received universal criticism and the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has declared his imprisonment as a violation of international law. Amal Clooney gave this interview after she spoke at a side event organised by Amnesty International to highlight the human rights situation in the Maldives focusing on fair trials and access to justice. https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/mahfooz-saeed-lawyer-of-maldives-ex-president-stabbed/
Others in a similar situation as Nasheed include former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, sentenced in March to 11 years for allegedly keeping an unlicensed weapon; former Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim, sentenced in March to 25 years for alleged corruption. Almost all opposition leaders are either in jail or in exile, fearing arrest and imprisonment if they return. They include Sheikh Imran Abdulla, the leader of Adhaalath Party, who has been detained since May. He is at risk of unfair trial.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mahfooz Saeed, lawyer of Maldives’ ex-president, stabbed

September 7, 2015

It does not rank as the worst human rights violation in the world but the stabbing of the lawyer of the Maldives’ ex-president is a classic case of attacking the defenders. Wonder why not more lawyers organizations have come out in professional solidarity:
On Friday 4 September lawyer Mahfooz Saeed was stabbed in the islands’ capital, Male, ahead of a visit by his international legal team, including human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.  He underwent emergency surgery and is now in a stable condition. “There were many people who saw the incident. The attackers were also caught on CCTV cameras,” Shauna Aminath, a spokeswoman for the MDP, of which Saeed is also a member, told AFP. The party believes the attack was politically motivated, she said.
Amnesty International condemned the assault and called on the Maldivian government to bring the perpetrators to justice.
This vicious attack must not go unpunished — Maldives authorities must ensure that human rights defenders can work free from fear of reprisals and that those responsible are held to account,” the human rights group said in a statement.
Amal Clooney is due to travel to the Maldives this week to meet with Nasheed. She is part of the legal team along with Jared Genser — who has represented Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi — and Ben Emmerson, a judge on international criminal tribunals for Rwanda and former Yugoslavia.

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/10/19/retaliation-now-reaches-even-human-rights-commissioners-in-the-maldives-un-deeply-concerned/

Source: Lawyer for Maldives’ ex-president stabbed in Male | Arab News

Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson takes the stage

April 19, 2015

Geoffrey Robertson at home in London.

Geoffrey Robertson at home in London. Photo: Kitty Gale

The Sydney Morning Herald of 17 April 2015 announces a series of public performances “Dreaming Too Loud” by the well-known British-Australian human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson. They will take place at Sydney’s City Recital Hall on 2 May, in Perth on 4 May, at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall on 5 May, in Adelaide on 8 May, Brisbane on 12 May and Canberra on 13 May.

A barrister entertaining a theatre audience? Well, the introductory piece (see some extracts below) certainly makes it sound like a very interesting event and I would not mind attending if Australia were just a bit closer! Also the proceeds go to two human rights NGOs including the International Service for Human Rights.

About his own performance: “Dr Johnson’s comment after watching a performing dog walking on its hind legs: it’s not that it’s done well, it’s the fact that it’s done at all“.

It will be an opportunity to explain the importance of human rights and how Australia might better contribute to them. I can reminisce about my own visits to death row and my times with torturers, and bring the latest news from the Ecuadorian Embassy.[Robertson was Assange’s lawyer] But I can also tell tales of Linda Lovelace and Mike Tyson and the Sex Pistols, and others I have defended.  It will not be a night of doom and gloom, so long as I can suppress my tendency to talk about the Australian Constitution.

……

I have played roles in front of large audiences. During the run of Hypotheticals on the ABC, I was a man of many parts – General Bulldoza, Sergeant Doberman, Senator Gladhand, Amanda Autocue, Lester Gallop, Judge Knott, Kerry Murfax. Those names worked to avoid libel writs from the identities on whom they were based. For younger readers, incidentally, Hypotheticals were unrehearsed Socratic dialogues in which sixteen or so luminaries would sit around a horseshoe table and play themselves in imaginary scenarios of my devising. I had John Howard sit on the toilet, wondering whether to rub out the racist graffiti on the cubicle door or complain to the attendant, who was Charlie Perkins. I had George Pell give the kiss of life to a gay man, and Gareth Evans invaded Tasmania. ..

Hypotheticals was meant to challenge the 60 Minutes adage that “if it’s not visual, it’s not a story”. The important decisions in the real world are seldom set against glorious sunsets. They are made by people (usually men) in suits, with notebooks, sitting around a table in a nondescript room, with a few potted plants and a picture of the incumbent President – the momentousness of the decision is generally in an inverse relationship to the splendour of the surroundings in which it is made. Hence the Hypotheticals stage, with its table and notepads, must approximate to the workaday world, where an editor or take-over merchant or torturer selects the next victim. The object of the programme was to show how important decisions are made, in a way never revealed in studio interviews or press conferences.

Dreaming Too Loud will have neither props nor glorious sunsets. My thespian debut will be sandwiched between work assignments – an effort to reclaim the Elgin Marbles, lectures on the Armenian genocide and the defence of the former Prime Minister of Mauritius.

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/geoffrey-robertsons-dreaming-too-loud-a-barrister-takes-the-stage-20150414-1mjwtk.html#ixzz3XjvzBkwO

 

Geoffrey Robertson’s Dreaming Too Loud: a barrister takes the stage.