Reprieve seeks witnesses at England v Pakistan cricket match at The Oval.
August 18, 2010
Reprieve is attending today’s third test match at The Brit Oval Cricket Ground, seeking witnesses in the British-Pakistani community for the innovative Pakistan Police Torture Project.
Dressed in bright orange, the investigative team will distribute information at the entrance, and is available to discuss the project or take testimony on the spot.
The Pakistan Police Torture Project was inspired by Reprieve’s work defending British citizens on Pakistan’s death row, which has revealed evidence of widespread police torture across the region. With investigative teams based in Birmingham and Pakistan, Reprieve is collecting testimony from victims in both countries in order to document the full scale of the problem. Reprieve will use the testimony, along with expert medical support, to challenge torture evidence in the Pakistani courts and to engage the Pakistani government.
This month’s test match at Edgbaston Cricket Ground was a success not just for the England team, but also for Reprieve’s investigators, who uncovered multiple witness leads. Reprieve will therefore attend England-Pakistan matches in at the Oval 18th-22nd August, at Lord’s on 26th-30th August, and many Twenty20 and one day internationals around the UK.
Reprieve caseworker Owen Watkins said: “Generating awareness and finding victims is the first step in our long journey to stamp out the use of police torture, a so-called interrogation method which in fact leads to further injustice rather than the truth. But without investigations like this, the abuses that currently condemn so many people to life behind bars or even death will continue in Pakistan.”
Reprieve’s Marc Callcutt, who runs the Pakistan Police Torture Project, said: “I am delighted to have found a work-related reason to go to the cricket.”
Notes for Editors:
Pakistan Police Torture Project
Reprieve can already confirm that it is standard practice in many Pakistan police stations to torture suspects until they confess. Standard abuses include falaka (foot whipping with a rod or cane), fingernails pulled out, hot chillies rubbed in eyes, endless beatings with sticks and being hung from the ceiling until shoulders dislocate.
Many British nationals have suffered such abuse whilst visiting family in Pakistan. In June 2004, Birmingham-born Naheem Hussain and Rehan Zaman were arrested in Kashmir and tortured into confessions and paying large bribes. Six years later, they are still awaiting trial in Mirpur prison. Glasgow’s Shabbir Zaib, now released, was subjected to falaka by the police until he confessed to murdering his wife.
As thousands of British nationals travel back and forth to Pakistan each year, many will have encountered legal difficulties during their stay and many more will know of incidents of abuse. Reprieve’s team of investigators are now seeking testimony from victims of Pakistani police abuse and appeal to anyone with information to come forward.
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.’
Reprieve is a charitable company limited by guarantee; Registered Charity No. 1114900 Registered Company No. 5777831 (England) Registered Office 2-6 Cannon Street London EC4M 6YH; Patrons: Alan Bennett, Julie Christie, Martha Lane Fox, Gordon Roddick, Jon Snow, Marina Warner