Reprieve US Fellowship

Reprieve US
  • Location
    Washington, D.C.
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Early Career / Mid Career
  • Posted
    Jun 23

Position description

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. Combined, Reprieve UK and Reprieve US have 50 staff worldwide and fellows in Egypt, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Malawi.

Reprieve US seeks applicants for funded fellowship positions in Washington DC. Reprieve US will also consider applications for funded fellowships based in other locations that are relevant to the fellowship opportunity. As Reprieve US is not able to provide direct funding, we ask applicants to seek sponsorship from Equal Justice Works, Justice Catalyst, Soros Justice Fellowships, Columbia J.D. Public Interest and Government Fellowships, law school-funds, corporate foundations and other public interest fellowships to begin in 2021.

In order to be considered for a funded fellowship position with Reprieve US or one of its partner organizations, you will first need to identify funding for which you are eligible. You may wish to be in touch concurrently with Reprieve US to check whether we will be able to host you if your funding application is successful.


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 American Deep South. Reprieve US’ fellowship program gives fellows the opportunity to be directly involved in ground-breaking human rights work; the high-quality work of the fellows enables Reprieve US and its partners to seize on strategic opportunities and develop projects that have the potential to transform the criminal justice landscape.

Fellowship Opportunity

Reprieve US seeks applicants for public interest fellowships to begin in 2021. Reprieve US is seeking candidates for the following fellowship categories:

•      Death Penalty

•      Secret Prisons (including Guantánamo)

•      Extrajudicial Executions

•      Cross cutting policy, research, and media fellowships

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.

Past death penalty related fellowship projects have included: helping to secure the release of over 130 former death row inmates former prison in Malawi by organizing and facilitating resentencing hearings; working on Reprieve US’ ground-breaking lethal injection project which has transformed the death penalty landscape in the United States; and building the case for abolition of the death penalty for drug offences in Pakistan.

Secret Prisons

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’s founder was one of the three lawyers who in 2001 demanded and successfully sued for the first legal access to the detention center. Reprieve UK and Reprieve US have since secured freedom for 77 former detainees – more than any other law firm or NGO – and continues to work to secure the release of those still there.

Extrajudicial Executions

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.

Past extrajudicial executions related fellowship projects include investigating cases of individuals targeted through the US Kill List and developing legal strategies to help protect these individuals. The work also includes investigating and exposing the stories of those killed as part of the drone program, and tracking developments in international law and policy in this area.

Cross cutting policy, research, and media 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.

Role and responsibilities

These will vary according to the applicant’s experience, interests and the project devised. Broadly fellows will be asked 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.



Fellows should be post-graduates in 2021, 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.


Reprieve US does not provide direct funding for these roles and applicants will need to find their own funding. Reprieve US will, where possible, provide assistance in completing funding applications. Reprieve US will not consider applicants for fellowships unless they are funded.

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.

This Fellowship opportunity is posted by Reprieve US a registered US 501(c)(3) charity in New York and Washington DC.

Reprieve US is an equal opportunity employer.


Application instructions

Individuals interested in undertaking a fellowship with Reprieve US should submit a letter of interest describing relevant experience and interest in the potential project areas described above, a resumé, and the names and telephone numbers of two professional references by email with “Reprieve US Fellowship Application - 2021” in the subject line.

Fellowship candidates should indicate their preferred location, willingness for us to provide our partner organization in that location with a copy of their application and information about their funding arrangements, and ability to obtain a visa for that location if required in their email. We would be grateful if candidates could also indicate where they learned of this fellowship posting.

Applications will be accepted until the positions are filled, and subject to funding checks, and identity checks.

Interviews will take place on a rolling basis and will be conducted over Skype or Zoom.

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