Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Amensty Internationl announced
Following the news that US soldiers had been captured by Iraqi forces during the US-led attack on Iraq, Bush said that "we expect them to be treated humanely, just like we'll treat any prisoners of theirs that we capture humanely... If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals."
On the same day, about 30 more detainees were flown from Afghanistan to the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. This brought to about 660 the number of foreign nationals held in the base. Most were taken into custody during the international armed conflict in Afghanistan. Some have been held in Guantanamo, without charge or trial, and without access to lawyers, relatives or the courts, for more than a year. Their treatment has flouted international standards. From the outset, the US Government refused to grant any of the Guantanamo detainees prisoner of war (POW) status or to have any disputed status determined by a "competent tribunal" as required under Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention. On the 9 February 2002, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the most authoritative body on the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, revealed that there were "divergent views between the United States and the ICRC on the procedures which apply on how to determine that the persons detained are not entitled to prisoner of war status". The ICRC news release said that the organization would pursue its dialogue with the US Government on this issue. Nevertheless, to this day none of the Guantanamo detainees have been granted POW status or appeared before a tribunal competent to determine their status..
The US has ignored not only the ICRC on this issue, but also the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. More recently, on 16 December 2002, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted that "the authority which is competent to determine prisoner-of-war status is not the executive power, but the judicial power", as specified under article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention.
When the first of the detainees arrived in Guantanamo in January 2002, the Pentagon released a photograph of the detainees in orange jumpsuits, kneeling before US soldiers, shackled, handcuffed, and wearing blacked-out goggles over their eyes and masks over their mouths and noses.
Meanwhile the US continues to hold the Guantanamo detainees in very harsh conditions, most of them confined alone to tiny cells for 24 hours a day and reportedly allowed to "exercise" in shackles for only 30 minutes a week - conditions which Amnesty International believes in their totality amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of international standards. The detainees remain in their legal black hole, unable to challenge the lawfulness of their detention, and with no indication as to how long they might be so held. There have been numerous suicide attempts. Family members are subject to the emotional distress of not knowing how their loved ones are being treated, why exactly they are being held, or when or if they will see them again.Have you read Animal Farm by George Orwell?
All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others
Meagn Lane reported
Footage of captured soldiers can either be unsensational reporting of a war's progress or it can be distressing propaganda. There's a fine line between the two. The Americans say the men are not covered by the Geneva Convention because they are "unlawful combatants" rather than POWs. As this term has no status in international law, opponents fear they have been consigned to what the Master of the Rolls Lord Phillips has described as a "legal black hole”. Tony blair was asked if captured coalition troops in Iraq could be regarded as unlawful combatants, given claims questioning the legality of the war, he said: "These are troops acting under the authority of the state. They are quite clearly POWs and should be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention."
But in an illustration of the emotional charge surrounding the issue, the anti-war Daily Mirror said there was no difference between the breaches committed by Iraq and the US. "The world should condemn every nation and every leader who flagrantly breaches those rules. Whether it is Iraq or the USA, Saddam Hussein or George W Bush. There cannot be one rule for America and one for the rest of the world." Read more
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