President Obama orders Guantánamo closed within a year

January 25, 2009

Reprieve is delighted by President Obama’s pledge to close Guantánamo Bay within a year, and halt all military trials.

At Reprieve we fight for legal rights in the darkest places; since 2002 a key battleground has been Guantánamo Bay. We are relieved that this battle is nearly won; we thank the President for his support and will hold him to his promises.

For our clients, the end cannot come soon enough. Reprieve will push for their urgent release and repatriation. But President Obama cannot achieve this alone. It is now time for British and European leaders to support the new administration by offering refuge for the prisoners of Guantánamo Bay. Sadly, Guantánamo Bay is just the beginning of the human rights abuses perpetuated by the Bush administration.

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 have been tortured; all are held illegally.

President Obama has pledged to close Guantánamo; 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” international network of “secret prisons”. All secret prisons must be opened to the scrutiny of international law and all secret prisoners must be reunited with their legal rights.

-ENDS-

For more information please contact Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office
katherine.oshea@reprieve.org.uk; 020 7427 1099; 07931592674.

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, 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 promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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