Our year in human rights: five achievements from 2017

2017 has been a busy year for Reprieve. Through a combination of legal action and public engagement, we have secured releases from death row, exposed the innocent casualities of Trump’s reckless drone strikes and helped to secure the release of another man from Guantanamo Bay.

We could not have achieved any of this without the loyal help of our supporters. It is the petitions you sign, the letters you write, and the money you donate that allows us to save lives, free the innocent and protect human rights.

Here are five of our achievements from this year, which would not have been possible without your support:

1. Stopping an execution in Virginia

In April 2017, the State of Virginia planned to execute Ivan Teleguz, despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence.

Ivan was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 2006. But his death sentence was based on false testimony, and a prosecutor’s suggestion that Ivan participated in a murder that never happened. The prosecution heavily pressured key witnesses into falsely implicating Ivan – both later admitting they lied to the court. The prosecutor even used fabricated evidence about another murder to seek Ivan’s conviction.

As part of our campaign to stop Ivan’s execution, thousands of our supporters wrote to the Governor of Virginia to raise the problems in Ivan’s case. Ultimately, justice prevailed, and Governor McAuliffe granted clemency to Ivan, permanently halting his execution and saving his life.

You can read more about Ivan’s case here.

2. Securing the release of a prisoner from Guantanamo Bay

In January, our client Salman Rabeii was finally released from Guantanamo Bay, after nearly 15 years of unlawful detention. During his imprisonment, he was never charged with a crime.

Salman was just 22 years old when he was picked up by Afghan forces, passed to the US military, and sent to Guantánamo Bay in May 2002. While being held in US custody, Salman was tortured.

Salman’s release brings the total number of detainees we have helped to free to 78—more than any other organisation in the world.

You can read more about Salman here.

3. Saving a student from death row in Egypt

After tireless work from our staff and supporters, Irish student, Ibrahim Halawa, who had been held in Egyptian prison for 4 years, was finally acquitted.

Ibrahim was caught up in the turmoil surrounding the breakup of political protests, while he was on holiday in Egypt. He was arrested by the police, refused access to a lawyer, tortured, and denied medical treatment for a gunshot wound.

Ibrahim was facing the death penalty in a mass trial of 494 people. But in September 2017, he was finally acquitted, and has now returned home to his family in Ireland.

You can read more about Ibrahim’s case here.

4. Revealing the true death toll of Trump’s Yemen raids

In January, President Trump ordered a raid in Yemen, which led to the deaths of a US Navy SEAL and numerous innocent Yemenis. The raid was reckless, violated international law, and led to an appalling loss of life.

While President Trump described the raid as a “win”, senior officials in his administration have said the raid produced “no significant intelligence” and that “almost everything went wrong” on the night in question.

We were the first organization to reveal the raid’s true death toll. Our on-the-ground investigations uncovered that 23 innocent Yemenis were killed in this failed operation, and that an 8-year-old girl and a new born baby were among the dead.

You can read our report on Trump’s Yemen raid here.

5. Stopping medicines being misused in lethal injection executions.

Throughout 2017, we continued to challenge the myth of the ‘humane execution’. Our Stop Lethal Injection Project (SLIP) supports global pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, investors, and regulators prevent the misuse of medicines in lethal injection executions.

This year saw new experimental cocktails of drugs adopted in a number of states. Our team worked with all of the manufacturers of these drugs to help them protect them from being sold to prisons for use in executions. This year also saw the first ever lawsuit by a wholesaler against a state over execution drug issues. In April, pharmaceutical giant, McKesson, brought a suits against the state of Arkansas. The suit temporarily stayed 8 executions and is ongoing.

In large part as a result of our work with the pharmaceutical industry, executions have halved since the project began in 2010, with this year seeing just 23 executions across only 8 states.

You can read more about our SLIP work here.