Clive Stafford Smith

Clive Stafford Smith

Clive Adrian Stafford Smith OBE (born 9 July 1959) is a British[citation needed] [see talk] lawyer who specialises in the areas of civil rights and the death penalty in the United States of America.

In August 2004 he returned from the US to live in the United Kingdom. He is now the Legal Director of the UK branch of the human rights not-for-profit Reprieve. In 2005 he received the Gandhi International Peace Award.

Contents

Background

Born in Cambridge and educated at Radley College, he declined a place at the University of Cambridge to relocate to the United States when he won a Morehead Scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied journalism before enrolling in Columbia University's Law School.[1] He is admitted to practice in the state of Louisiana and in Washington, D.C.

Stafford Smith worked for the Southern Prisoners' Defense Committee, based in Atlanta, now known as the Southern Center for Human Rights, and on other campaigns to help convicted defendants sentenced to capital punishment.[1]He first came to British public attention when he appeared in Fourteen Days in May, a 1987 BBC documentary showing the last fortnight in the life of Edward Earl Johnson before he went to the gas chamber in Mississippi State Penitentiary.[2] Stafford Smith had acted as Johnson's attorney and was seen desperately trying to halt the execution of the death sentence. In a follow-up documentary Stafford Smith conducted his own investigation of the murder for which Johnson was executed.[2]

In 1993, he helped set up a new justice center, formerly known as the Louisiana Crisis Assistance Center, but now known as the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, for prisoner advocacy, in New Orleans.[1] In 2002, he became a founding Board Member of the Gulf Region Advocacy Center (G.R.A.C.E.), a non-profit law office in Houston, Texas designed to bring the methods developed by Stafford Smith at LCAC to the "capital of capital punishment".

Guantánamo detainees

Since returning to the UK, he has worked as the legal director of Reprieve, a British charity that is opposed to the death penalty.[1]During his career he has lost six death penalty cases.[citation needed] From 2002 Stafford Smith has volunteered his services to security detainees at Guantanamo Bay and has assisted in filing lawsuits on behalf of 128 detainees. His clients include Shaker Aamer, Jamil al Banna, Sami Al Hajj, Sami Al Laithi, Abdul Salam Gaithan Mureef Al Shehry, Moazzam Begg, Omar Deghayes, Jamal Kiyemba, Benyam Mohammed and Hisham Sliti. In a BBC interview, when asked why he was representing detainees, he answered that "liberty is eroded at the margins".

It was during this period, in December 2004, that Stafford Smith prepared a 50-page brief for the defense of Saddam Hussein arguing that Saddam should be tried in the U.S. under U.S. criminal law.[3]

On 29 August 2005 Stafford Smith addressed attendees at the Greenbelt festival, a major UK Christian festival, telling them about the second hunger strike the Guantanamo detainees were undertaking. Stafford Smith warned that prisoners were likely to die soon. Due to restrictions imposed by the United States Department of Defense, lawyers' notes must be filed with an intelligence clearing house in Virginia, before release. Conversations with clients are considered classified, and cannot be discussed until they have been cleared. Thus, Smith had to wait until August 27, 2005 to publicly reveal that the hunger strikes had been re-initiated on 5 August 2005. Two of his clients, Binyam "Benjamin" Mohammed and Hisham Sliti, participated in the hunger strikes. In an interview broadcast on the BBC television evening news on 9 September 2005, Stafford Smith stated that one of the reasons for the second hunger strike was to protest the continuing imprisonment of children in Guantanamo Bay.[4]

Stafford Smith contributed to The Guardian on the U.S. Supreme Court's 29 June 2006 ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.[5]

Stafford Smith speculated that George W. Bush should have been secretly relieved that the more conservative members of the Supreme Court, who supported the administration's appeal against the lower court's ruling, were in the minority: "In the end, I suspect there was a collective sigh of relief from the White House that the lunatic fringe did not prevail. The Bush administration has finally recognized that it must close Guantánamo but — for all that Bush bangs on about the importance of personal responsibility — it wanted someone else to take the blame."[5] Stafford Smith wrote a book about his experiences at Guantanamo, Bad Men (2007), shortlisted for the 2008 Orwell Prize for political writing.[6]

Interviewed by Jon Snow of Channel 4 News on 26 March 2009, Stafford Smith said he would be astounded if 10 Downing Street did not know that his client, former Guantánamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, was being tortured. He added: "I would go one step further: the torture decisions were being made in the White House, by the National Security Council, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice". He asserted that although the British had not carried out the actual torture they were complicit in it. Stafford Smith concluded that, in seeking to keep the torture allegations secret, the US authorities were "confusing national security with national embarrassment".[7] In July 2010, Stafford Smith accused former Foreign Secretary David Miliband of "fighting tooth and nail" to prevent the release of vital documents during the Binyam Mohamed case.[8]

As of July 2011, Stafford Smith has secured the release of 65 prisoners from Guantánamo and at the time acts for 15 more.[1]

Awards

  • Awarded the OBE in the 2000 New Years' Honours list "for humanitarian services in the legal field".[1]
  • Honorary Doctorate of Law by the University of Wolverhampton 2001, for his work fighting the death penalty in America.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from The Lawyer Magazine (2003)
  • Benjamin Smith Award from the ACLU of Louisiana (2003)
  • Soros Senior Fellow, Rowntree Visionary (2005)
  • Gandhi International Peace Award 2005, for his work representing Guantanamo detainees and campaigning against extraordinary rendition.
  • "Gandhi International Peace Award citation". Gandhi Foundation. http://www.gandhifoundation.org/peaceaward.html. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  • Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Award (2008)
  • International Freedom of the Press Award (2009)
  • International Bar Association's Human Rights Award (2010)
  • Honorary Doctorate by Bournemouth University (2011).

Publications

  • Bad Men: Guantánamo Bay and the Secret Prisons (Weidenfeld & Nicholson 2007) Details his work for detainees in Guantanamo Bay, and criticizes Alan Dershowitz amongst others for their advocacy of torture.
  • The Eight O'Clock Ferry to the Windward Side: Fighting the Lawless World of Guantanamo Bay (Nation Books, 2007) ISBN 1568583745
  • Welcome To Hell: Letters and Writings from Death Row by Helen Prejean, Clive Stafford Smith, and Jan Arriens (Northeastern; 2nd edition 2004) ISBN 1555536360

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Profile at Reprieve
  2. ^ a b Fourteen Days in May
  3. ^ Saddam bids to challenge case in U.S. The Sunday Times, 19 December 2004
  4. ^ Andy Worthington, 1 June 2009
  5. ^ a b A good day for democracy: The ruling against the Guantanamo tribunals is good news for everyone — even George Bush, The Guardian, 30 June 2006
  6. ^ "Shortlist 2008", The Orwell Prize
  7. ^ "Interview: Mohammed's lawyer Clive Stafford Smith". Channel 4 News. 2009-03-26. http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/politics/international_politics/torture+allegations+investigated+/3049567. Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  8. ^ Oborne, Peter (July 16, 2010). "Nailed, Miliband and six lies on torture". Daily Mail (London). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1295158/TORTURE-INQUIRY-Nailed-David-Miliband-6-lies-abuse.html?ito=feeds-newsxml. 

External links


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