How the United States normalized indefinite detention and what needs to be done to stop it
Reprieve invites you to an exclusive conversation, exploring one of the most urgent human rights issues of our day. Please join David Remnick, Editor of The New Yorker magazine, Pulitzer Prize winner Ben Taub, and Reprieve U.S. Director Maya Foa, as they discuss how indefinite detention in Guantánamo Bay built the foundation for what some are calling “Europe’s Guantánamo” in North East Syria, and to ask the question, what can be done to prevent the next decade of US and European foreign policy from becoming more of the same?
To join us for this inspiring event, all you need to do is register here. Spaces are free of charge but we hope you will consider making a donation to support Reprieve and allow us to face these and other abuses head-on.
In 2003, as the United States launched its “war on terror,” the Bush Administration began a program of indefinite detention in Guantánamo Bay. The past two decades have seen the systematic abduction, torture, and imprisonment without due process of over 750 people. The United States continues to inflict these pains on forty detainees in Guantánamo today.
But the systemic issues plaguing Guantánamo detention were not isolated there. The “war on terror” fundamentally changed the way western governments’ allies’ approached the international legal order, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the camps and prisons in North-East Syria today. Thousands of detainees—many of them children—are held without charge or trial, denied access to any form of representation, in conditions that a British court has found to be tantamount to torture. Now, European governments, who so vociferously condemned Guantánamo, are actively supporting the indefinite detention of these individuals in North-East Syria in the name of “combatting terrorism”.
David Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker since 1998 and a staff writer since 1992. He has written many pieces for the magazine, including reporting from Russia, the Middle East, and Europe, and Profiles of Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Katharine Graham, Mike Tyson, Ralph Ellison, Philip Roth, and Benjamin Netanyahu.
Remnick began his reporting career as a staff writer at the Washington Post in 1982, where he covered stories for the Metro, Sports, and Style sections. In 1988, he started a four-year tenure as a Washington Post Moscow correspondent, an experience that formed the basis of his 1993 book on the former Soviet Union, “Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire.” In 1994, “Lenin’s Tomb” received both the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction and a George Polk Award for excellence in journalism.
Under Remnick’s leadership, The New Yorker has become the country’s most honored magazine. It has won forty-eight National Magazine Awards, including multiple citations for general excellence, and has been named a finalist a hundred and seventy-eight times, more than any other publication. In 2016, it became the first magazine to receive a Pulitzer Prize for its writing, and now has won six, including the gold medal for public service. Remnick’s personal honors include Advertising Age’s Editor of the Year, in 2000 and 2016, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in 2016.
Remnick has written six books: “Lenin’s Tomb,” “Resurrection: The Struggle for a New Russia,” “King of the World” (a biography of Muhammad Ali), “The Bridge” (a biography of Barack Obama), and “The Devil Problem” and “Reporting,” which are collections of some of his pieces from the magazine. Remnick has edited many anthologies of New Yorker pieces, including “Life Stories,” “Wonderful Town,” “The New Gilded Age,” “Fierce Pajamas,” “Secret Ingredients,” and “Disquiet, Please!”
Remnick has contributed to The New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, Esquire, and The New Republic. He has been a visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and has taught at Princeton, where he received his B.A., in 1981, and at Columbia.
Ben Taub joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2017. He has written for the magazine about jihadism, crime, conflict, climate change, exploration, and human rights, on four continents and at sea. In 2020, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, for his work on the lasting effects, on former detainees and guards, of American abuses in Guantánamo Bay. He has also received a National Magazine Award, two consecutive George Polk Awards, a Livingston Award, a Robert F. Kennedy Award, an Overseas Press Club Award, and other honors.
As the Director of Reprieve, Maya leads a team of lawyers fighting against extreme human rights abuses. Her work, alongside the work of the organisation she has helped shape over the past decade, aims to protect vulnerable individuals from the excesses of oppressive Governments – whether they are on death rows or hillsides patrolled by weaponised drones.
CBS has described Maya as “the woman behind a shortage of execution drugs” in the US thanks to her innovative work in tracing pharmaceutical supply chains and consulting with more than 50 manufacturers to help them prevent their life-saving drugs being used in executions. Under Maya’s directorship, Reprieve is saving the lives of people on death rows and securing justice for the victims of abusive counter-terrorism practices (including torture, rendition, extrajudicial imprisonment and extra judicial killing) across the world. Maya has conducted extensive advocacy before the governments of Europe, the United States and regional and international bodies, has served as an expert advisor to the European Commission and is a frequent voice in the media.
Maya is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. She was a 2015 Soros Justice Fellow. Maya was awarded the inaugural Robin Steinberg Innovation Award from the Bronx Defenders in 2018 and the 2015 SMK Women Demanding Justice award. In 2015, Maya was named one of Sir Richard Branson’s 65 Most Inspirational People. Maya studied French and Italian at Oxford University and did a postgraduate degree in Law.