Clive Stafford Smith to give Annual Lecture

  • September 29, 2015
Clive Stafford Smith to give Annual Lecture

Distinguished human rights lawyer will talk about the death penalty, drones and torture.

The distinguished human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, whose campaigning work has resulted in the release of 69 Guantánamo prisoners, including Shaker Aamer, will deliver this year’s Annual Gates Cambridge Lecture.

Clive Stafford Smith’s lecture,  “Death penalty, drones and torture”, will take place on the evening of 11 November.

He is the founder and Director of Reprieve and oversees Reprieve’s casework programme, as well as the direct representation of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay and on death row as a Louisiana-licensed attorney at law.

After graduating from Columbia Law School in New York, Clive spent nine years as a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights working on death penalty cases and other civil rights issues. In 1993, Clive moved to New Orleans and launched the Louisiana Crisis Assistance Center, a non-profit law office specialising in representation of poor people in death penalty cases.

In total, Clive has represented over 300 prisoners facing the death penalty in the southern United States. While he only took on the cases of those who could not afford a lawyer – he has never been paid by a client – and always the most difficult cases, he prevented the death penalty in all but six cases and claims a 98% “victory” rate. Clive has taken five cases to the US Supreme Court and won all of them.

In 2001, when the US military base at Guantánamo Bay was set up, Clive joined two other lawyers to sue for access to the prisoners there. He believed that the camp was an affront to democracy and the rule of law. He received death threats and was labelled a “traitor” for defending “terrorists”. It was three years before the Supreme Court allowed lawyers into the prison camp. Meanwhile, Clive travelled the Middle East to find the families of the ‘disappeared’ prisoners and was taken into custody by the Jordanian secret police in 2004 as a result.

To date, Clive has helped secure the release of 69 prisoners from Guantánamo Bay. This includes every British prisoner. He still acts for eight more prisoners. More recently, Clive has turned a strategic eye to the other secret detention sites, including Bagram in Afghanistan and the British island of Diego Garcia.

Clive has received many awards and honours for his campaigning work. In 2000 he was awarded an OBE for ‘humanitarian services’. He was a Soros Senior Fellow, Rowntree Visionary (2005) and Echoing Green Fellow (2005). In addition, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Lawyer Magazine (2003) and The Law Society, the Benjamin Smith Award from the ACLU of Louisiana (2003), the Gandhi Peace Award (2004), a Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Award (2008), International Freedom of the Press Award (2009), Unione Nazionale Cronisti Italiani (for the defence of Sami el Haj) and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Award (2010). Alongside these, Clive was ranked 6th on the 2009 list of Britain’s Most Powerful Lawyers (The Times, July 2009) and ranked 3rd on 2009 “High Profile” British lawyer list (The Lawyer, September 2009).

*The Lecture will run from 6–7pm on 11 November 2015 and will be followed by a drinks reception until 8pm. It will take place at the David Li Kwok Po lecture theatre, Faculty of Law, 10 West Road. The lecture is open to all and seats will be available on a first come first served basis. For more information, email info@gatescambridge.org. Picture credit: iStock.

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