Reprieve, Yunus Rahmatullah, and Habeas Corpus

(This piece is from a mailing by Ken Macdonald, Chair, Reprieve.  Reprieve is an organisation that we support and with whom we agree that Habeas Corpus remains the foundation of modern liberties.)

Whether they’re held without charge in secret prisons, or awaiting execution, the principle of habeas corpus gives all prisoners the right to challenge unlawful detention.

Habeas corpus isn’t just an ancient legal principle: it’s a powerful tool used by Reprieve’s brilliant young lawyers and investigators to get innocent people out of dark prison cells. We travel the world to fight for these prisoners in court, and we spend weeks on the road collecting evidence to win them their freedom.

Putting legal principles like habeas corpus into action, we’ve freed scores of men and women from death row, and we’ve returned no fewer than 66 prisoners from Guantánamo Bay. It really does work.

One of Reprieve’s best habeas achievements came last December when the Court of Appeal in London ordered the release of Yunus Rahmatullah, held without charge in the notorious US Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan for nearly a decade. From a courtroom here in London, we shone the light of law into Yunus’s prison cell many thousands of miles away. This was a feat of legal ingenuity, but it hasn’t resulted in his freedom.

Undeterred, we’ve joined with our partners in Pakistan, switching the point of attack from London to Lahore. Our battleground is a different court and our target a different government, but the principle is the same – no one can be held in secret or without reason:*** habeas corpus***.

We’ll keep fighting for men like Yunus Rahmatullah, but our tirelessness is not enough: because courage and imagination amount to nothing without people like you providing the funds to keep us going.