Reprieve calls on President Obama to expose America’s ‘secret prisons’ and restore the international rule of law

January 21, 2009

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“Our founding fathers drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up.” – President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address

Reprieve stands with President Obama in the belief that the rule of law is the key to an enlightened world. We therefore call on the new President to shine a light on the thousands of prisoners still held beyond the reach of our lawyers: in America’s international network of “secret prisons”.

At Reprieve we fight for legal rights in the darkest places: since 2002 a key battleground has been Guantanamo Bay. We are relieved that this battle is nearly won and thank the new President for his support in bringing it to a close.

But sadly, that shameful prison is just the tip of the iceberg.

Reprieve can report that over 10,000 individuals are currently imprisoned illegally in CIA-sponsored ‘secret prisons’ or ‘dark sites’ around the world.

These prisoners are held beyond the reach of lawyers, without trial and without rights. Some are held on ships, some in Africa, some in Europe. Some are tortured; all are held illegally.

President Obama has pledged to close Guantanamo; a difficult but urgent task, and Reprieve will offer him every support to achieve this.

But we further urge the President to redress the grave wrong of America’s “dark sites”.

All secret prisons must be opened to the scrutiny of international law and all secret prisoners must be reunited with their legal rights.

Every prisoner that languishes in a secret prison is a corrosive legacy of the Bush era. Only by returning to her ideals will the Obama’s United States regain moral legitimacy and the power that bestows.

Reprieve is investigating CIA sponsored “dark sites”, or secret prisons, across the world.



Notes for editors:

Reprieve is a legal action charity, founded by Clive Stafford Smith in 1999. Reprieve uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. We investigate, litigate and educate. Working on the frontline, we provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves, promoting the rule of law around the world, and securing each person’s right to a fair trial. In doing so, we save lives.

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