TRIAL International was founded in 2002 in Geneva by a group of lawyers and victims wishing Switzerland to play an active role in the fight against impunity. Geneva is home to the headquarters of the organization, which include its executive management, central administration, the External Relations department, as well as the majority of the legal staff.

The European capital of human rights is a strategic location for TRIAL International, which submits a significant part of its cases and reports to the United Nations bodies based in Geneva.

Cases against individuals and companies

TRIAL International also acts before the Swiss courts, to which it submits most of its cases relating to universal jurisdiction or corporate liability.

Although they are handled at the cantonal or national level, these cases involve facts occurred in third countries but concerning Swiss nationals or companies. TRIAL International has therefore filed complaints against the Ticino-based company Argor-Heraeus SA, the Swiss and Guatemalan binational Erwin Sperisen, the Swiss businessman Nicolae Bogdan Buzaianu, the Zug-based company Kolmar Group AG, the Belarusian national Yuri Harauski, the former Interior Minister of Gambia Ousman Sonko, the former Vice-President of Syria Rifaat al-Assad, and the former Minister of Defense Khaled Nezzar.

Philip Grant, TRIAL’s Executive Director: “Today’s ruling shows that the ideal of justice pursued by so many, in Switzerland and in Guatemala, can be achieved.” Sperisen was sentenced in Geneva in 2014. ©Richard Juilliart

A unique expertise

TRIAL International has also published a legal manual on the application of universal jurisdiction in Swiss law. It provides a unique insight into the prosecution in Switzerland of the most serious crimes committed abroad. A copy can be ordered here (available in French only).