Reprieve US is an international human rights organization that uses strategic interventions to end the use of the death penalty globally, and to end extreme human rights abuses carried out by states in the context of the so-called ‘war on terror’.
We work closely with our Fellows and partner organizations around the world including our sister organization in London, Reprieve.
Reprieve US invites applications for externally funded fellowship positions beginning in 2022, in our Washington DC office. Reprieve US will also consider applications for funded fellowships based in other locations that are relevant to the fellowship opportunity, or from applicants based in the US who would like to work remotely.
Reprieve US does not provide direct funding, and so asks applicants interested in our fellowships to seek sponsorships from their law schools, corporate foundations and public interest fellowships. We are also pleased to discuss support for applications to Equal Justice Works, Justice Catalyst and Soros Justice Fellowships. Please state the funding for which you are eligible in your application. Our preference is that Reprieve US dispenses grants on behalf of the funding institution, enabling us to ensure that fellows are treated with parity and can access additional benefits available to staff members. Applicants should check this with their funder.
For the past two decades, Reprieve and Reprieve US have used a fellowship model to support and work with human rights defenders and their organizations in some of the most challenging jurisdictions in the world – including Indonesia, Pakistan, Yemen, Malawi and the US. Reprieve US’ fellowship program gives fellows the opportunity to be directly involved in ground-breaking human rights work and to work with colleagues and experts around the world. The work of our fellows enables Reprieve US and partners to seize on strategic opportunities and develop projects that have the potential to transform the criminal justice landscape.
Reprieve US seeks applicants for public interest fellowships to begin in 2022. Fellows will work on a project within one of 4 areas of focus, outlined below. Applicants should review a list of projects in which they can express an interest, available at the end of this document.
The Death Penalty
Reprieve US uses strategic initiatives to end the use of the death penalty. We fight to save individuals from execution, but also to challenge whole systems of injustice that result in the implementation of the death penalty by focusing on cases most likely to have a wider strategic impact.
We are on the frontline, investigating cases, tracking down evidence and witnesses, and working with attorneys to take action in the courts. We combine legal action with public campaigns and advocacy.
Reprieve US works to stop ongoing rendition, unlawful detention and torture/cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment carried out in the name of “counter-terrorism” or “national security”. Past secret prisons related fellowship projects have included working on cases of individuals detained in Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve UK and Reprieve US have since secured freedom for over 80 former detainees – more than any other law firm or NGO – and continues to work to secure the release of those still there.
Reprieve US works to bring an end to state-sanctioned extrajudicial executions carried out in the name of “counter-terrorism” or “national security”, including off-battlefield use of weaponised drones and the use of, or collusion with, other mechanisms for assassinations. Reprieve US is assisting survivors and victims’ families in their fight for legal accountability, transparency and justice. We are seeking an end to the use of extrajudicial execution and complicity in extrajudicial execution by state actors.
Cross cutting advocacy fellowships
As well as working on individual cases and investigations, Reprieve US advocates for systemic policy change to end states’ use of capital punishment, extrajudicial executions, and secret prisons. We also campaign publicly and engage with the media around our cases and issues, fighting on behalf of our clients in the court of public opinion as well as the court of law.
Our policy and media work is closely integrated with our casework and strategic projects, and aims to secure changes in policy and public opinion across all of our key issues.
Reprieve US’s current policy goals include supporting legislation to abolish and restrict the scope of the death penalty; strengthening policies to prevent the sharing of torture tainted evidence; preventing US and UK complicity in overseas human rights abuses; and advocating for an end to state-sponsored extrajudicial executions.
Fellow’s role and responsibilities
These will vary according to the applicant’s experience, interests and the project devised. Fellows can expect to:
· Conduct legal and/or factual research and analysis and develop theories to support new litigation projects and advocacy strategies;
· Draft memoranda and briefings;
· Participate in casework and office meetings and prepare summaries for these;
· Interview witnesses and people who Reprieve US assists as appropriate and as needed;
· Draft and edit public education and non-litigation advocacy materials;
· Provide support to Reprieve US partners;
· Assist with administration for casework: filing, taking minutes and so on; and
· Attend conferences as needed, and be an ambassador for Reprieve US and its partner organizations.
Experience and qualifications
Fellows should be post-graduates with the necessary qualifications for the relevant fellowship for which funding is sought, and they must have:
· Excellent research and writing skills;
· Excellent interpersonal skills and judgment;
· Agility, creativity and the ability to work efficiently with limited supervision;
· Analytical and investigative skills;
· The ability to multi-task and to be proactive in their approach to work
Knowledge of legal issues related to the death penalty, extrajudicial killings and illegal detention (this is desirable but not required); and
· A commitment to the mission of Reprieve US.
We also ask candidates to have a can-do attitude and to pitch in on a range of tasks at busy times.
This job description provides a general but not comprehensive list of the essential responsibilities and qualifications that may be required. It does not represent a contract of employment. Reprieve US reserves the right to change the job description and/or posting at any time without advance notice.
How to apply
Individuals interested in undertaking a fellowship with Reprieve US should submit a letter of interest describing their experience and motivations for applying for a fellowship. Please review the list of 2022 projects below, and identify the two projects you are most interested in in your letter alongside details of your intended funding source. Please also send a resumé, and the names and telephone numbers of two professional references by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with “Reprieve US Postgraduate Fellowship Application – 2022” in the subject line.
Fellowship candidates should indicate their preferred location and ability to obtain a visa for that location if required in their email.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Please note that successful candidates will be subject to funding and identity checks. Applications will be accepted until the positions are filled, and subject to funding checks, and identity checks.
Please see below for a list of projects commencing in 2022 that our fellows will work on. Please review this list, identify which 2 or 3 areas are of most interest to you, and explain this in your application:
Stop Lethal Injection Project: Medical Participation in Executions – Engaging the Medical Community
This project involves building on Reprieve’s pioneering efforts in galvanizing the medical community against the lethal injection by designing a public information campaign targeted at both the medical community and the general public that highlights the dangers of physician participation in executions, the experimental nature of the drugs used in the procedure, the high rates of botched executions, the lack of ethical oversight, and the destructive impact on public confidence in the medical community.
Stop Lethal Injection Project: Challenging Execution Secrecy
Building on Reprieve’s existing efforts to fight lethal injection and debunk the myth of the humane execution, this project involves strategic litigation and advocacy to challenge execution secrecy and change how lethal injection is perceived by key decision makers and the wider public.
Migrant workers are disproportionately susceptible to being sentenced to death due to a number of vulnerability factors, including vulnerability to becoming a victim of human trafficking. This project will involve identifying migrant workers currently facing the death penalty around the world, with the aim of undertaking casework and advocacy. This project will also involve monitoring relevant legal and policy developments on human trafficking between countries in South East Asia, South Asia and globally with the aim of engaging the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and local partners in order to make arguments in suitable death penalty cases and achieving implementation of states’ obligation to identify and protect victims of human trafficking.
South East Asia – advocacy against the death penalty and death row conditions
This project will involve documenting prison conditions across retentionist countries in South East Asia, mapping the relevant domestic and international standards, and developing an advocacy strategy aiming to ensure that people facing the death penalty and held in prison conditions amounting to torture across South East Asia are protected from the death penalty and torture by existing international and domestic standards – drawing on successful strategies from other jurisdictions, such as Malawi, Uganda, Pakistan.
Malawi – torture and the death penalty
In collaboration with our partner, Fellows working on this project will support representation for all those entitled to a resentencing hearing following the abolition of the death penalty in Malawi, and to a campaign against the use of torture against suspects by the police and reliance on torture evidence in criminal proceedings.
Tanzania – advocacy and sensitisation
This project will involve casework and advocacy to limit the application of the death penalty, with a focus on the mandatory death penalty. It will include casework on behalf of clients before domestic and regional courts, and campaigning to limit the death penalty.
Kenya – resentencing
In Kenya we support a project to allow 5,000 people who were sentenced to the now-unconstitutional mandatory death penalty to have access to re-sentencing hearings. Fellows working on our resentencing in Kenya will focus on in-depth casework, stakeholder engagement and community sensitisation.
Middle East and North Africa: regional research
Fellows working on our work against the death penalty in the MENA region will research domestic and international law across the region, work on case studies, and conduct data collection and analysis relating to the death penalty. They will also have the opportunity to work on submissions to UN special procedures for individual cases in the region. They will be involved in case investigations and will work with our partners on establishing case theory in our death penalty cases.
Guantanamo Bay and Life After Guantanamo
Reprieve represents 7 men in Guantanamo Bay and runs the Life after Guantanamo project—the only dedicated project which seeks to assist former Guantanamo detainees in accessing the services they need for rehabilitation and rebuilding their lives. Fellows working on this project will support ongoing litigation and advocacy to effect the release of our clients and support Reprieve’s work towards ensuring safe repatriation and resettlement upon release.
Northeast Syria: Repatriation
Right now, thousands of people, the majority of them children, are being held indefinitely in Northeast Syria. Families—many of whom were trafficked to the area from around the world—are held in camps, creating a security and humanitarian nightmare. Still many governments refuse to bring their nationals home. Reprieve works alongside and for individuals in Northeast Syria to advocate for their repatriation to their home countries. This project will involve an intersection of our advocacy—law, policy, and media—to push for the repatriation of individuals indefinitely detained in Northeast Syria.
Extrajudicial Executions: Unlawful lethal drones
Our Extrajudicial Executions team is at the forefront of the fight against unlawful lethal drones. We investigate who really gets targeted and killed, we support victims to bring legal cases, and we campaign to end the United States’ unlawful lethal drones program. A fellowship with this team will help support investigation into drone strikes and the algorithms behind the targeting policy; litigation of individual cases; and advocacy against the use of drones to attack families, journalists, politicians, and peace activists in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and elsewhere.
This Fellowship opportunity is posted by Reprieve US a registered US 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Reprieve US is an equal opportunity employer.