Fair Trials International

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Fair Trials International (FTI) is a UK-registered non-governmental organization which works for fair trials according to international standards of justice and defends the rights of those facing charges in a country other than their own.[1]

Fair Trials International provides individual legal assistance through its casework practice. It also builds local legal capacity through targeted training, mentoring and network activities.[2]

History[edit]

Fair Trials International was founded by lawyer Stephen Jakobi in 1992 (under the name Fair Trials Abroad) as a response to the case of Karen Smith, a British citizen arrested in Thailand for drug smuggling.[3]

Casework[edit]

Fair Trials International assists around 500 individuals each year and provides assistance in approximately 50 cases at any one time. It uses a network of lawyers and diplomatic, political and media contacts to advocate on behalf of clients. It does not charge clients for the service it offers.[1]

Fair Trials International has provided assistance on several high-profile cases[4] including the case of English nanny Louise Woodward who, in 1997, was arrested in America for murder, after the death of a baby in her care.[5] Woodward was found guilty of second degree murder, although her sentence was reduced on appeal as the court found that there was no malice in Louise’s actions and that “allowing this defendant on this evidence to remain convicted of second-degree murder would be a miscarriage of justice.” [6] In 2007, 10 years later, the key prosecution witness reversed his evidence stating: “the science we have today could, in fact, have exonerated Louise. There is certainly, in retrospect, reasonable doubt.”[7]

Other high-profile, notable cases include

Ian Stillman: In August 2000, deaf charity worker Ian Stillman was arrested in India for smuggling 20 kilograms of cannabis after the drug was found in a shared taxi. He has always maintained his innocence. Fair Trials International campaigned for his release and in 2002 he was finally released after spending 2 years in prison.[8]

Greek Plane Spotters: In November 2001, a group of 12 British and two Dutch plane spotters were arrested on charges of espionage after taking notes during an open day at a Greek Air Force base. They were found guilty in 2002. The Greek courts overturned the conviction on appeal.[9][10]

Ghana Girls: In July 2007, two 16-year-old girls, Yetunde Diya and Yasemin Vatansever, were arrested for possession of 6 kilograms of cocaine at Accra airport in Ghana. The girls claimed they did not know they were carrying drugs. With help from Fair Trials International, the girls received only a one-year prison sentence instead of the maximum 3-year sentence.[11]

Campaigns, research and lobbying[edit]

Fair Trials International also conducts campaigning, research and lobbying activity, using evidence from its casework to identify problems in the administration of justice and the protection of fundamental rights.[12] It conducts research into access to justice and fundamental rights and uses the results to lobby for reform, including the European Arrest Warrant,[13] as well as the European Investigation Order[14]

References[edit]

External links[edit]