Campaigning this week – the Saudi Crown Prince & Benedict Cumberbatch

Image of a woman carrying papers to the Saudi embassy

by Matthew Leidecker, Head of Campaigns

So much to talk about this week…

First, welcome to the many new people who have joined Reprieve in response to our Saudi executions campaign. We are the world’s most effective death penalty organisation and we’ve freed more prisoners from Guantanamo Bay than any other. This mailing list is the best way to keep up to date with our work and campaigns – you will also find more on our website and social media.

This week we focussed on executions in Saudi Arabia, as the Crown Prince arrived in London to talk up his programme of ‘reforms’, which have not, so far, included commuting the death sentences of 18 young people convicted for the ‘crime’ of protesting. Eight of them were just children when arrested. All were brutally tortured.

On Thursday morning we went to the Saudi Embassy in London with Bianca Jagger (Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador and Founder and Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation) to deliver our 79,337 signature-strong petition, but they refused to accept it.

As a result, even more people have joined our campaign. More to come on that soon…

A seven-month legal battle with the UK government also ended with an incredible victory – the Prime Minister was forced reveal a previously secret order governing criminal activity by British security service agents.

It is the most intrusive power a State can wield, but we’re still a long way from knowing when British spies can commit criminal offences and how far they can go.

As we’ve been left guessing, we launched a video collaboration called Charade with the artist David Birkin, featuring over 50 people –  including Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Trevor Paglen, Peter Kennard, and Martha Rosler – acting out what activity they think agents could be involved in and calling on the PM to publish her guidance.

The video has been viewed by more than 60,000 people so far and our work on this issue was covered widely in the media. If you haven’t done so already please watch and share.

This week, we’ve succeeded in shining a light on some of the worst human rights abuses and holding powerful governments – including our own – to account. That’s what we’re here to do. 

A big thank you from the team here at Reprieve for all your campaigning work at this incredibly busy and important time.

If you want to know more

The answer to every question about Saudi ‘reforms’ has been Vision 2030. But what is it? And will it really change Saudi Arabia? What everyone should know about Saudi ‘reforms’


Our analysis of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia since Mohammed Bin Salman became Crown Prince – 5 facts about #ANewSaudiArabia


Theresa May forced to publish secret order on crimes by MI5 – what we know and don’t know at this point