Reprieve applauds President Obama’s decision to halt the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay and calls for urgent action to end the continued suffering of our clients.

January 21, 2009

Image from a Gitmo protest

Reprieve congratulates President Obama on his decision to suspend the military commissions in Guantánamo Bay.

Reprieve calls on the President to halt the human suffering at Guantánamo Bay, and on the British government to show European leadership by welcoming back a number of the stateless prisoners being held there.

British Resident Binyam Mohamed endured medieval torture, and is currently on hunger strike. He is in solitary confinement, desperate for an idea of when he will be released home to Britain. He and other prisoners who previously lived in the UK should be returned to this country at once. Another prisoner represented by Reprieve, Mohamed el Gharani, 21, has been held in Guantánamo Bay for seven years based largely on spurious allegations that he was a member of the ‘London Cell of al Qaeda’ – when he would have been 11 years old. He was recently cleared for release by a federal judge, who noted he had never been to London. Held under maximum security conditions since the age of 14, he still waits to begin his life. But Guantanamo is just the tip of the rendition iceberg: many thousands of prisoners are currently held by the US beyond the rule of law in sites across the world.

Reprieve continues to fight for access to these “secret prisons” in the Middle East, Africa and beyond.

“This is a wonderful and historic first step,” said Clive Stafford Smith, director of the British charity. “But it is much too early to cry ‘Mission Accomplished.’ President Obama’s intentions are good, but he needs help to drain the poisoned chalice left to him by his predecessor. Every prisoner that languishes in a secret prison is a corrosive legacy of the Bush era and a violation of human rights and decency. President Obama must deliver on his promise that the US will stand as a beacon of justice.”

We therefore call on the new President urgently to close Guantánamo Bay and shine a light on the thousands of prisoners still held beyond the reach of our lawyers.

Reprieve represents 30 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and 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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