Guantánamo Bay

Reprieve represents 5 prisoners held in Guantánamo Bay and provides legal assistance to many more.

We led the fight for access to the men held at Guantánamo, and were one of the very first organisations allowed inside. Since then, we have secured freedom for 70 men illegally detained without charge or trial – more than any other law firm or NGO.

After 9/11, the US government systematically designed and implemented a programme of abducting and torturing terrorism suspects, before imprisoning them without due process in Guantánamo Bay. Clive Stafford Smith was one of the three lawyers who demanded and successfully sued for access to the prison.

Since 2002, 779 men and boys – all of them Muslim – have been imprisoned at Guantánamo, including at least 15 children. The vast majority of them were sold to the US when the military was offering large bounties for capture of terrorism suspects – typically, around $5,000 for each man. 8 of the men held at the prison camp have been convicted by a Guantánamo military commission, and just 1 man has been prosecuted in a US federal court. No one has been held accountable for the illegal detention and abuse at the prison camp.

In 2013, the fate of men in Guantánamo re-entered public consciousness, offering the first glimmer of hope for them since President Obama’s empty promise to close the prison in 2009. Detainees began a mass hunger strike, as their only means of peacefully protesting the harsh treatment they endured on a daily basis by camp guards, and the fact that none of those cleared for release were being sent home. Thanks to their resilience and to Reprieve’s press work, Guantánamo is once again a major political issue in the United States.

Many of the hunger-strikers are being violently force-fed against their will. Reprieve is bringing force-feeding litigation on behalf of several of our clients, and we recently filed a motion in federal court requesting that the Obama Administration be compelled to retain and release videotapes of force-feeding sessions. Judge Gladys Kessler ruled in our favour after 16 major US media organisations asked for the tapes to be released on public interest grounds. The Obama Administration has since appealed Judge Kessler’s decision.

We’re optimistic that once the public gets to see this disturbing abuse of men at Guantánamo, the outrage will be such that the Obama Administration will have no choice but to shut down the prison for good.

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