Trial-monitoring professionals exchange methodologies at OSCE/ODIHR annual meeting

More than fifty representatives from 30 non-governmental organizations and eight OSCE field operations exchanged experiences in applying trial-monitoring methodologies at the Annual Trial Monitoring Meeting, organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) between 26 and 28 November 2014 in Tbilisi, Georgia.

During the meeting, participants also discussed challenges concerning access to information on court proceedings and issues related to applying different trial-monitoring principles, while sharing their experiences of new trial-monitoring methodologies used in the OSCE region.

“Every year we witness an increase in interest from NGOs wishing to participate in our meeting,” said Maria Alcidi, a Rule of Law Officer at ODIHR. “NGOs conduct trial monitoring based on their own specific methodologies and for varying objectives, and the range of experiences that they contribute enriches the discussions and the learning opportunities for all participants.”

The meeting also provided participants with the opportunity to attend training sessions on selected fair trial rights and on the use of statistics in trial-monitoring programmes.

“I have attended several annual trial monitoring meetings organized by ODIHR, and every time I take home new ideas and tips that can be applied to our ongoing trial-monitoring programme,” said Ama Kraja, Legal Assistant at the OSCE Presence in Albania.

During the meeting, ODIHR also shared its publications related to trial monitoring, including the Legal Digest of International Fair Trial Rights (2012), which provides a detailed description of fair trial rights and includes monitoring checklists; a revised edition of Trial Monitoring: A Reference Manual for Practitioners (2012), which describes the various OSCE trial-monitoring methodologies; and the Handbook for Monitoring Administrative Justice (2013), which serves to support monitoring activities in administrative proceedings.

ODIHR has organized annual meetings on this topic for more than a decade with the aim of enhancing the skills and knowledge of trial-monitoring practitioners and, thus, assisting participating States to uphold respect for fair trial rights in line with their OSCE commitments.