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  1. Clemency wells by E.Purdon BW

    Headlines or bread and butter? Behind the scenes with the fundraising team

    Clemency Wells on 24 November 2011

    Bread and butter. These are not the exciting items on my shopping list. They are definitely not as exciting as the All Saints jacket I really want or the red dress I was eyeing up for Reprieve's annual fundraiser on 10 November. I'd always much rather spend my money on exciting things - wouldn't you? But the exciting items aren't the really important ones. It is the mundane items on my shopping list that keep me alive.

    Fundraising is difficult at the best of times. In case anyone hasn't noticed it is currently far, far from ...

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  2. Harriet McCulloch

    Towards collaboration, abolition - and dinner - in Hong Kong

    Harriet McCulloch on 21 November 2011

    Last week Marc Callcutt and I travelled to Hong Kong for a death penalty conference, where our attempts to make friends with brilliant academics resulted in a labyrinthine, often fractious search for consensus... and for a meal.

    Marc had said that conferencing doesn't feel like work work and this is definitely true – the Scooby gang didn’t sit around listening to talks about the death penalty, and neither (our guilty consciences whisper) should Reprieve investigators and caseworkers! 

    The thing is that at Reprieve we can’t do our work without the help of academics, activists and other practitioners and ...

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  3. Cori Crider

    The Government's Un-British Plans to Keep Torture Secret

    Cori Crider on 21 November 2011

    Last month I spent time with Khadidja al Saadi, a 19-year-old girl who MI6 and CIA rendered back to Gaddadfi's regime when she was 14. Her three siblings, her mum, and her father Sami were with her. Her father, the target of the operation, spent years being beaten and electrocuted in Libyan Intelligence chief Moussa Koussa's torture chambers.

    Khadidja's story, and the UK's shameful role in it, only emerged in the last few months, and only because Libyan rebels found the smoking gun in Moussa Koussa's office: letters from Mark Allen of MI6 to Koussa ...

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  4. Death row - cell

    The Question No-one’s Answering

    Joseph Sanderson on 17 November 2011

    With Texas Governor Rick Perry, who holds the distinction of having presided over the highest number of executions of any governor of any state since 1976, making waves in the Republican Presidential race, it’s time to remind ourselves about the death penalty in Texas.

    For one thing, there are a few questions which probably deserve answers. For example, does Texas have systems which prevent a court-appointed defence attorney who admitted being incompetent, scientifically unsound forensic evidence and a judge sleeping with a prosecutor sending people to death row? Do these mean that its capital punishment system is fatally flawed ...

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  5. Cortney Busch BW 2011

    Senator mistaken on NDAA and Guantanamo

    Cortney Busch on 11 November 2011

    Back in May, when the US House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year of 2012, I wrote to my state Senator, Mike Johanns of Nebraska.  There are some things that I should explain first before moving on:

    • The National Defense Authorization Act FY 2012 (or NDAA 2012) is an appropriations bill (that is, a bill defining where and how much money can be spent over the next fiscal year).  Like its sister bill in 2011, the NDAA 2012 basically precludes Guantánamo inmates from every entering the US mainland - to be resettled or for ...

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  6. Kate Higham

    Armed drones, deployed in Texas

    Kate Higham on 10 November 2011

    Police in Montgomery County, Texas,  have deployed their first armed drones.

    The first thing I thought on reading this was, frankly, “Uh-oh.”

    Even the farcical idea of these little winged robots crashing into one another – operators are worried about the possibility of mid air collisions since the drones’ single camera can’t focus on a suspect and where they are going at the same time – didn’t distract me for long.

    The current generation of drones in Montgomery County may only be armed with “tazers” and “stun batons,” but they, like most drones, have the capability to carry much more ...

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  7. Cori Crider BW

    A meeting with the victims of Britain's Libyan renditions

    Cori Crider on 09 November 2011

    I am just back from Tripoli, where – amidst raucous celebrations about the end of war and dictatorship – I was part of a team investigating the cases of two families kidnapped by CIA and MI6 and sent to Gaddafi’s torture chambers.

    The story goes like this: in February 2004, Abdelhakim Belhaj, a long-time Gaddafi opponent, tried to board a plane for Britain with his pregnant wife. The couple were denied boarding and hauled to Bangkok, where the CIA tortured them at a blacksite and flew them to Tripoli. Just a couple of weeks later, Sami al-Saadi (pictured right), Abdelhakim’s ...

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  8. Marc Callcutt BW

    Dealing with the death penalty in Asia

    Marc Callcutt on 08 November 2011

    For the past two days, I have been attending a conference in Hong Kong, from where I am writing.

    It feels like a break from work, to be honest, as normally when I am abroad the day is spent rushing from one meeting to the next, or desperately writing memos. And of course there still is that – our first night we met with the lawyer and family members of three British nationals in Thailand, still in prison over 3 years after their death sentence was overturned and they were acquitted. In fact, as I write this Harriet, on her first ...

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  9. Clive Stafford Smith

    For Our Allies, Death From Above

    Clive Stafford Smith on 03 November 2011

    Last Friday, I took part in an unusual meeting in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.

    The meeting had been organized so that Pashtun tribal elders who lived along the Pakistani-Afghan frontier could meet with Westerners for the first time to offer their perspectives on the shadowy drone war being waged by the Central Intelligence Agency in their region. Twenty men came to air their views; some brought their young sons along to experience this rare interaction with Americans. In all, 60 villagers made the journey.

    The meeting was organized as a traditional jirga. In Pashtun culture, a jirga acts as both ...

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  10. Tineke Harris by Emmanuelle Purdon

    The day I cried in the office

    Tineke Harris on 02 November 2011

    It is generally considered a very bad career move to cry at work. Which is, I suppose, why I rarely do it. But when I learned that Sheraz Shah had died of heart failure in Pakistani custody, I did cry. In front of all my colleagues. 

    Sheraz’s case is tragic. He died on December 31st 2010, now almost a year ago, after spending three years in custody awaiting trial for a capital crime he could not possibly have committed.

    Sadly, it is quite normal for prisoners in Pakistan, and the semi-independent state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (“AJK”, where ...

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