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NOV 2014
PAKISTAN, VIETNAM

Reprieve: Ensuring the right to a fair trial, from death row to Guantánamo Bay

"How many times have we read in the news that people have been falsely accused and have therefore been on death row for many years? No one should have to lose his or her life because the system that was in place to protect them failed to do so. It was a pleasure working with Reprieve and I would love to work with them again."

Hafsah Rana

Student at King's College London

Naheem Hussain and Rehan Zaman spent seven and a half years in prison without trial and underwent severe torture and mistreatment under the hands of the police for false charges of murder. Though they have been released on bail and the evidence against them is weak, they still live in fear of a death sentence. Shaker Aamer was picked up in Afghanistan while he was doing voluntary charity work and has been held in Guantanamo Bay since 2002. With no charge and no trial, he has long been cleared for release by the United States; however, he has been subjected to years of abuse and isolation and still remains imprisoned.

The above mentioned examples are just two of the cases that Reprieve took on to deliver justice and save lives. Reprieve is a UK based non-governmental organisation that works to promote the rule of law and ensure a person's rights to a fair trial. They help prisoners who are facing death row, prisoners held beyond the rule of law in the ‘war on terror,’ whether in Guantánamo Bay or rendered to secret prisons elsewhere, and those who are unable to finance their own legal support. They work with NGOs, government officials, lawyers, human rights activists and the families of the victims to ensure delivery of effective legal services.

Ciarán Suter is one of Reprieve's many dedicated workers who is working on a project which seeks to identify foreign nationals facing the death penalty in the United States, the Middle East and North Africa and South East Asia. At university, Ciarán studied French, Spanish and European Studies, followed by a Graduate Diploma in Law. After several years working in the private sector, Ciarán decided to volunteer with Reprieve’s London office to pursue his interest in civil liberties.

As a non-governmental organisation with limited resources, Reprieve has benefited from iProbono's network of lawyers and law students who share their concerns. iProbono has been able to support Reprieve’s efforts by:

  • Connecting them to law students and lawyers around the world whose language skills have further enabled them to translate legal documents such as court decisions and statutes to/from English, which is invaluable to investigate and litigate on behalf of those that they assist.
  • Connecting them to lawyers who provided in-depth advice on specialist areas of domestic law related to the subject-area of the cases and the day-to-day functioning of the organisation.
  • Connecting them to students who have conducted research on countries / issues related to their casework and project work.

Reprieve's translation projects on iProbono have covered a number of languages, including French, Italian, Thai, Urdu and Vietnamese. Accurate translations are essential for the legal team to understand the contextual nuances and details about a case.

One of the Urdu translators was Hafsah Rana, a Pakistani pharmacology student with an interest in human rights law. Another was law student Hang Dieu, who translated letters from Vietnamese into English. Both were able to work remotely from home and fit in the assignments with their university work. Through these translations, Hafsah and Hang were instrumental to Reprieve ensuring a fair trial for the prisoners. On the experience, Hafsah said, "How many times have we read in the news that people have been falsely accused and have therefore been on death row for many years? No one should have to lose his or her life because the system that was in place to protect them failed to do so. It was a pleasure working with Reprieve and I would love to work with them again."

To find out more about Reprieve and get involved in their various campaigns please visit: www.reprieve.org.uk