new victims supported


field investigations


new criminal denunciations
and complaints


ongoing procedures


annual budget (CHF)

Despite political reluctance to prosecute high-ranking leaders, some of TRIAL International’s most iconic cases have experienced positive developments – in Switzerland and elsewhere. 


Under the watchful eye of justice

In the latest act of a seven-year long battle, Erwin Sperisen was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in April 2018. The Court of Justice in Geneva confirmed the involvement of the former Guatemalan Chief of Police in seven extrajudicial killings in 2006. An appeal was lodged before the Swiss Supreme Court.

Read more: Court of Justice confirms murder charges against Erwin Sperisen

A more recent suspect in Switzerland, former Gambian Interior Minister Ousman Sonko, stayed behind bars in 2018. The Federal Criminal Court rejected his appeal and confirmed his custody until at least January 2019. This measure grants the Office of the Attorney General time to investigate the suspect’s alleged crimes, which may lead to the opening of a trial. Through investigative missions and the identification of victims and witnesses, TRIAL International actively contributes to the gathering of incriminating evidence.

Read more about the Sonko case


Switzerland’s separation of power called into question

In a damning report in April 2018, the United Nations denounced political interference in two high-profile cases in Switzerland, both brought before the authorities by TRIAL International. The experts pointed to unexplainable delays in the investigations against Rifaat al-Assad and Khaled Nezzar due to “an apparent lack of political will”.

Read more: Is Switzerland becoming a safe haven for criminals?

In the end, the case against former Algerian Minister Khaled Nezzar was saved from closure by the same Federal Criminal Court (FCC). In June 2018, it overturned a decision made by the Office of the Attorney General alleging that there had been no armed conflict in Algeria in the 1990s. As a result, investigations resumed but have suffered months of delays pending the FCC’s ruling.

Read more: Swiss court orders resumption of war crimes investigation


Investigation against Yahya Jammeh opens new avenues for justice

For over a year, TRIAL International and Human Rights Watch investigated the killing of more than 50 migrants by the security forces of former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. Numerous witnesses were interviewed, both inside and outside of The Gambia, including 11 officers directly involved in the incident and the sole survivor of the massacre.

Read more: Ex-President tied to 2005 murders

The findings of this investigation, published in a report, concluded that the murders had been committed by the “Junglers” – Yahya Jammeh’s paramilitary death squad. The investigation also revealed that the President’s subordinates destroyed key evidence to prevent international investigators from unveiling their crimes.

Read the investigative report’s key findings

On the basis of this investigation, the NGO coalition to bring “Jammeh2Justice” called on other Western African countries to act. Because of the nationality of some of Jammeh’s victims, Ghana in particular could play a role in the fight to bring the fallen dictator and his accomplices to justice.

Read more: Togo should support investigative efforts in Ghana


Encouraging the rise of universal jurisdiction worldwide

For the fourth consecutive year, the Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review was published in March 2018. Marking a 106% increase in universal jurisdiction cases across 14 countries, the Review demonstrates the potential of this fundamental legal concept.

Browse the Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review 2018: Momentum towards accountability

TRIAL International is among the few organizations to work on all stages of universal jurisdiction cases: from the early steps of conducting investigations and filing criminal complaints, to providing legal and psychosocial support to victims and pushing the authorities to open a trial.

Read more: International justice, a last resort for some, troubles for others