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What is your study programme?

The Library may have different opening hours on 18, 19 and 20 May. See uva.nl/studyspaceExternal link for up-to-date information.

Fair Trials Clinic

Last modified on 14-05-2024 12:10
Through the Amsterdam Law clinics, Master's students get the opportunity to work on cases of public interest on behalf of clients.
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The Fair Trials Clinic at the University of Amsterdam provides master's students with the opportunity to gain practical experience in monitoring international trials and advocating for fair trials. Through a partnership with the Clooney Foundation for Justice and its project TrialWatch, the Fair Trials Clinic monitors trials in various European countries that pose a significant risk of violating human rights.

Partnership with the Clooney Foundation for Justice: 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’ misuse of the court system, 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.

You can witness the power of TrialWatch and see how students secure the release of imprisoned journalists, political activists and leaders around the world through clicking on this link: https://cfj.org/our-impact/External link (you will be redirected to a web site outside of the UvA).

An illustration of protesters holding signs.

Partnership with Lawyers for Lawyers 

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 Amsterdam Law Hub at the Amsterdam Law School.

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 VainioFair Trails Clinic, 2019/2020

Clinical work

Students get the unique opportunity to work with worldwide experts and lawyers. If you take part in the Fair Trials Clinic you enhance your 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. 

To gain a comprehensive understanding of human rights concerns, students engage in a multi-step process that includes:

  • Monitoring trials: Students closely observe trials, analyzing legal proceedings to identify potential human rights violations.
  • Reviewing legal documents: Students examine court documents and indictments to gather evidence of potential issues.
  • Direct interaction: Students engage directly with journalists, lawyers, and activists to gather firsthand accounts of the situation.
  • Analyzing data: Students analyze data from various sources to track trends in human rights abuses within the countries in question.

Contact us

For any questions regarding the Fair Trials Clinic, please e-mail usExternal link

Requirements, eligibility and application

In addition to the regular course of the Amsterdam Law Clinics, students participating in the Fair Trials Clinic will have to complete the online training programme (6-10 hours) as developed by TrialWatch. 

All Master’s students are in principal eligible to apply. Please note that the Fair Trials Clinic does not have sufficient European law questions/components to count as an elective course for the students of the European Union Law and the European Competition Law & Regulation tracks.

Other than fluency in English, there are no language skills required. However, as we may be monitoring in countries such as Türkiye 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.

Check out the specifics on how to apply

Contact with former Clinic students

If you're interested in more practical information about the clinic and experiences from former Fair Trials Clinic students, please send us an e-mailExternal link and we will provide you with the relevant contact information of FTC alumni.

What our alumni say about the Amsterdam Law Clinics:

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