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Who are Fair Trials?

Fair Trials is an international NGO that fights for fair and equal criminal justice systems. We are independent experts who work to defend everyone’s right to a fair trial. We highlight threats to justice, build partnerships for reform, and campaign for practical changes that fix failings within criminal justice systems.

Fair Trials has offices in Brussels, London and Washington DC.

About us

Fair Trials is an international NGO that campaigns for fair and equal criminal justice systems.

What we do

Our team of independent experts expose threats to justice through original research and identify practical changes to fix them. We campaign to change laws, support strategic litigation, reform policy and develop international standards and best practice.  We do this by supporting local movements for reform and building partnerships with lawyers, activists, academics and other NGOs.

Where we work

Our vision is global but we are currently focused on campaigning for fair and equal justice systems in Europe, Latin America, the UK and the US. We are the only international NGO that campaigns exclusively for the right to a fair trial, which gives us a comparative perspective on how to tackle failings within criminal justice systems globally.

Our registered offices in Brussels, London and Washington DC are currently closed because of COVID-19. This means that we can’t access our offices to pick up post. A copy of all mail (including registered post) should be sent to us by email at [email protected].

Funding and governance

Fair Trials is an independent non-profit organisation with no party-political affiliations. We are funded by a combination of charitable grants and donations. We do not receive core funding from any government and are not paid for any of the help we provide. Fair Trials is governed by a board of volunteer Trustees, responsible for the charity’s strategic direction and financial management.

Our history

Human rights lawyer, Stephen Jakobi OBE, founded Fair Trials (then Fair Trials Abroad) in 1992, in response to high-profile cases of injustice across the globe. Today, Fair Trials campaigns for the broader reform of legal systems so that we can have a greater impact and protect more people’s right to a fair trial. Recent successes include playing a leading role in the reform of INTERPOL and the development of criminal procedural rights as directly enforceable laws in every EU member state.                                                                                                                         

Charitable and legal status

“Fair Trials” includes Fair Trials International, Fair Trials Europe, and Fair Trials Americas. Fair Trials International is a registered charity (no. 1134586) and in 2010 was incorporated with limited liability in England and Wales (No. 7135273), and is based at 5 Castle Road, London, NW1 8PR. In May 2014, Fair Trials International founded Fair Trials Europe, which is a registered public foundation in Belgium (registered number 0552.688.677). In 2018 we founded Fair Trials Americas, which is a registered 501(c)(3) public charity in the United States of America (No DLN17053243307017).  We were initially founded in 1992 with the name “Fair Trials Abroad”.

Fair Trials International is registered with the Dutch Tax Inspectorate for tax exempt status. Its RSIN (Rechtspersonen en Samenwerkingsverband en Informatienummer) number is 8238.23.593.

Accounts

Below you can download our most recent accounts.

Fair Trials Accounts

Standaardformulier Publicatieplicht

Policies

Privacy policy

Safeguarding policy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where we work

Our vision is global but we are currently focused on campaigning for fair and equal justice systems in Europe, Latin America, the UK and the US.

Europe

Fair Trials’ campaigning contributed to the development of criminal procedural rights as directly enforceable laws across EU Member States. We continue to work towards their implementation in practice and to protect these rights where they are threatened, in particular the right for arrested people to have access to a lawyer in police custody.

Excessive pre-trial detention across Europe remains a growing problem, which reinforces discrimination, contributes to the overcrowding of prisons, and undermines the rule of law. We are calling for the European Commission to take action to ensure that Member States only use pre-trial detention when it is necessary and proportionate.

We are also monitoring proposals for digitalisation, and alerting where they could reinforce discrimination in Europe’s criminal justice systems and impact on people’s fundamental rights in criminal proceedings.

Other threats to fair trial rights in Europe include trial waivers, fast-track trials and the prosecution of minor offences, which is leading to overcriminalisation, as well as data-driven policing.

We also continue to actively work on cross-border judicial cooperation mechanisms, and advocate for a rights-based approach.

Our LEAP network of lawyers, campaigners and academics, are a crucial part of our work to promote fair trial rights in Europe. Find out more about LEAP.

Latin America

Torture by law enforcement officials, including police officers and prison guards, is a systemic problem in many central and Latin American countries. Torture is used to extract confessions, which are admitted in court, resulting in unfair trials and miscarriages of justice. Fair Trials works with partners across the region to raise awareness of the use of torture and ensure that safeguards are in place to tackle it, including through access to lawyers in police stations. We are also calling for the expanded use of remote hearings to end and not become the norm following Covid lockdowns.

Our partnerships include the Red de Defensores/as Democraticos/as (REDD) network of defence lawyers and criminal justice and human rights experts in Mexico.

United Kingdom

In the UK, we are working with lawyers, NGOs and policymakers to challenge excessive pre-trial detention rates and restrictions on accessing lawyers in police stations.

The number of people in prison and waiting for a trial in England and Wales is at a six year high. We are raising awareness of this growing problem calling on the Government to make structural changes to reduce pre-trial detention, including by releasing for prisoners who are on remand.

Covid-19 lockdowns have meant that many arrested people do not get to see a lawyer in person before being interrogated by the police. We are calling for lawyers to get back into police stations as soon as possible.

Thousands of people in England and Wales have been convicted of coronavirus-related offences behind closed doors and many of these convictions may be unlawful. We are calling for the end of the Single Justice Procedure for coronavirus offences.

United States

America’s criminal legal system is in urgent need of reform. Fair Trials works with campaigners, defense lawyers, grassroots movements, prosecutors and policy makers to tackle the intersecting problems of structural racism, mass incarceration and overcriminalisation.

US citizens’ right to counsel is protected under the Constitution but in reality arrested people are almost never able to access counsel until, at the earliest, the first court hearing. We are campaigning for everyone who has been arrested to have access to a lawyer before they are interrogated by the police.

In the US, 98% of criminal cases are resolved through plea bargaining. We are working with prosecutors to challenge the reliance of plea bargaining to process cases quickly.

PARTNERS

Fair Trials builds partnerships with lawyers, activists, academics and other NGOs. Combining our expertise with local knowledge, we support and build movements for reform that raise awareness of threats to justice and find practical ways to fix them. 

Networks

We build and support networks for criminal justice reform.

Our LEAP network works to promote fair trial rights in Europe. It brings together over 200 organisational members representing law firms, civil society organisations, and academic institutions from across the 27 EU Member States. If you are interested in joining LEAP, please contact Ioana Barbulescu ioana[dot]barbulescu[at]fairtrials[dot]net 

Red de Defensores/as Democraticos/as (REDD) is a network of defence lawyers and criminal justice and human rights experts in Mexico. It was created by Fair Trials and the Instituto de Justicia Procesal Penal, and is funded by the Swedish Postcode Lottery. REDD fights against torture in Mexico, promotes the right to a fair trial and develops effective litigation tools for the exclusion of evidence obtained under torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Partners

We support and work with partners all over the world to advance fairness, justice and equality in criminal legal systems through a range of different projects, campaigns and litigation. Some of our existing and recent non-profit partners are listed below. 

Africa

APCOF

Europe

Antigone (Italy)

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

Centre for European Constitutional Law (Greece)

Centre for Peace Studies (Croatia)

Centre for European Policy Studies

Civil Rights Defenders (Sweden)

Croatian Law Centre

EIPA Luxembourg - European Centre for Judges and Lawyers

European Roma Rights Centre

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland)

Human Rights Monitoring Institute (Lithuania)

Hungarian Helsinki Committee

Irish Council for Civil Liberties

KISA (Cyprus)

Kosovo Law Institute

KU Leuven

Ligue des Droits Humains (Belgium)

Ludwig Boltzmann Institute

Mirovni Institute (Slovenia)

Netherlands Helsinki Committee

Res Publica (Albania)

Rights International Spain

Latin America:

IDDD

IJPP

United Kingdom

National Appropriate Adults Network

REDRESS

Transform Justice

University of Exeter

University of Northumbria

United States

American Bar Association

Fair & Just Prosecution

NORC (University of Chicago)

Urban Institute

 

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    Some activities in the following sections on this website are funded by the European Union’s Justice Programme (2014-2020): Legal Experts Advisory Panel, Defence Rights Map, Case Law Database, Advice Guides, Resources, Campaigns, Publications, News and Events. This content represents the views of the authors only and is their sole responsibility. It cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.