On International Day Against Torture, Reprieve renews calls for release of torture victim Binyam Mohamed from Guantánamo

June 26, 2008

Image of a man standing outside of a prison gate with the sun setting behind him

Today, June 26, marks the 21st anniversary of the day that the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force. Since 1998, it has been marked by the UN as the International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture.

On the tenth anniversary of the International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture, there is, sadly, still no evidence that many of the countries who signed up to the UN Convention have turned their backs on the use of torture.

In the last six years, since the US administration announced the start of its “War on Terror,” the United States has employed torture in its worldwide network of secret prisons, including Guantánamo, and has been involved in the “extraordinary rendition” of hundreds of prisoners to face torture either in its own secret CIA-run prisons, or in third countries where proxy torturers have done its dirty work on its behalf. In this, the United States has had the active support – or the tacit consent – of numerous other countries, including the UK.

Reprieve, the legal action charity, today adds its voice to those demanding an absolute prohibition on the use of torture, and calls the American and British governments to account for their involvement in the rendition and torture of Londoner and Reprieve client Binyam Mohamed, who was seized in Pakistan in April 2002 and sent to Morocco, where he endured 18 months of torture at the hands of the US administration’s proxy torturers, which included regularly having his genitals cut with a razor blade.

Even after this gruesome ordeal came to an end, Mr. Mohamed endured a further nine months of torture and abuse in Afghanistan, in the CIA-run ‘Dark Prison’ in Kabul, and the US military prison at Bagram airbase, before he was finally transferred to Guantanamo in September 2004.

He now faces trial by Military Commission, an unjust process described by Lord Steyn as a “kangaroo court,” in which confessions obtained through torture may, at the discretion of the government-appointed judge, be admitted as evidence.

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s Director said: “The entire case against Binyam Mohamed is derived from the fruits of torture. On the International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture, the US and UK governments should send out a clear message about their commitment to an absolute prohibition on the use of torture by releasing Mr. Mohamed immediately.”

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For further information, please contact Andy Worthington at Reprieve’s Press Office on 020 7427 1099.

Note for editors:

Reprieve, the legal action charity founded by Clive Stafford Smith, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve, which currently represents 35 prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives.