Newspaper logo  
 
 
  

Op-Ed:

U.S. Violates Geneva Conventions

by members of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition

On January 11, 2002, the United States announced that it was refusing to abide by the 1949 Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war. The Third Geneva Convention, which provides specific guidelines for treatment of prisoner combatants, is a part of the "law of nations" and is a mainstay of international humanitarian law. The United States explained that the prisoners taken in Afghanistan and Pakistan were not actually prisoners of war, but were in fact "unlawful combatants."

The first prisoners arrived in the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on January 11, 2002. According to the Washington Post, prisoners were hooded and shackled during the 27-hour flight. The United States defended these practices as appropriate security measures. Media on site in Cuba reported that the prisoners were fitted with goggles that were blacked out, for "security reasons" necessary to prevent them from using their eyes. In a public letter to Donald Rumsfeld , Amnesty International expressed concern that the prisoners' conditions of transport violated international norms.

The prisoners are being housed in outdoor 6 foot-by-8 foot open-air chain link cages, with concrete floors and wooden roofs, and contain a mat and a plastic bucket. The U.S. demanded that media not show photographs of the prisoners in these conditions, explaining, without apparent irony at the inconsistency, that the photos would deprive the prisoners of their rights under the Geneva Convention. According to a Pentagon spokesperson, any photographs of the prisoners in the United States-imposed conditions would be "humiliating" and "debasing." Several outlets have not complied with the Pentagon's demand.

The Bush Administration's refusal to abide by the world's humanitarian laws stands in stark contrast to the justifications advanced for U.S. military actions. On September 20, 2001, in a televised speech, George W. Bush justified the waging of war as necessary to defend the values of "civilization" against "evil": "This is not, however, just America's fight. And what is at stake is not just America's freedom. This is the world's fight. This is civilization's fight." On November 8, 2001, in his prime-time speech to the nation, President Bush declared the bombing of Afghanistan to be "a war to save civilization itself."

Article 4 of the Geneva Convention defines the categories of persons who may be considered as "prisoners of war." According to Article 5, "should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal." No competent tribunal has adjudicated this matter.

Among the provisions of the Third Geneva Convention regarding humane treatment of prisoners of war, which the U.S. is refusing to apply, are:

- Article 13: Humane treatment required; No reprisals allowed

- Article 14: Respect for persons and honour; No gender discrimination

- Article 16: No discrimination based on race, nationality, religious belief or political opinions

- Article 17: No physical or mental torture; No coercion to obtain information; Prisoners who decline to provide information may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment

- Article 18: Clothing, articles of personal use, to remain with prisoners

- Article 20: Evacuation or transfer to be under same conditions as afforded Detaining Power

- Article 21: Internment in camp allowed; Close confinement prohibited

- Article 22: Internment in penitentiaries prohibited; Every guarantee of hygiene and healthfulness required

- Article 25: Condition of quarters must be as favorable for POWs as for the forces of the Detaining Power; Accommodations for habits and customs of POWs required; Protection from dampness, adequate heat and lighting required

- Article 26: Food must be in sufficient quantity, quality and variety to maintain good health and weight

- Article 27: Adequate clothing, underwear and footwear required

- Article 28: Canteens must be installed; Fairly priced food, soap, tobacco and ordinary items must be stocked

- Articles 29 - 32: Proper hygiene and medical attention, including monthly health inspections, required

- Articles 34 - 37: Prisoners must be afforded complete latitude in the exercise of religion, including attendance at services, on condition they comply with disciplinary routine

- Article 38: Provisions for physical, intellectual and recreational activities

- Article 70: Prisoners must be allowed to write to family, others


The authors are members of the national steering committee of the A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition. www.internationalanswer.org.


Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on February 6, 2002.
  
Local News & Opinion

02.13 A Case for Homeless Shelter Networks as Basic Infrastructure

02.13 Can Baltimore Pull Off Its $700 Million Makeover Without Displacing Residents?

02.13 Baltimore mayoral candidate DeRay McKesson releases plan for city

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

02.13 It’s Not Just Flint. There’s an Ugly History of Lead Poisoning and the Poor in the U.S.

02.13 Scientists: air pollution led to more than 5.5 million premature deaths in 2013

02.13 Climate risks could wreak havoc on financial markets, EU watchdog warns

02.12 The Koch Brothers' Dirty War on Solar Power

02.12 The Community Solar Industry Gets a Voice of Its Own

02.12 Instead of Replacing Flint's Old Pipes, Why Not Just Build New Ones?

02.12 SoCalGas fixes gas leak that gushed methane into Los Angeles for 16 weeks

02.12 Toxic chemicals found in beached pilot whales in Scotland [ocean life dying from coal plant pollution...]

02.11 The Court Blocks Efforts to Slow Climate Change

News Media Matters

02.12 America's School Teachers Are Confused About Climate Change

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

02.13 Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger: It's Personal. Very Personal.

02.13 Donald Trump’s white America is revolting: New numbers show just how noxious the GOP front-runner’s coalition is

02.13 Sanders proudly declaring “Kissinger is not my friend” totally destroys notion that Clinton’s better on foreign policy

02.13 Jeffrey Sachs Blames Hillary Clinton for Our National Security Woes

02.12 Henry Kissinger’s “mad and illegal” bombing: What you need to know about his real history — and why the Sanders/Clinton exchange matters

02.12 Even if Sanders wins the popular vote, Clinton could still get the nomination [disgraced establishment has its thumb on the scale]

02.11 Wingnuts have a death-grip on Congress: Why Paul Ryan can’t control the House GOP

02.11 Obama Celebrates Nine Years of Doing Nothing About Money in Politics [inaction proves his allegiance to the 'super-rich & corporate democrat party']

02.11 How Elizabeth Warren Helped Sanders Deflate Clinton's Massive Political Apparatus

Justice Matters

02.12 Morgan Stanley to pay $3.2bn over mortgage-backed securities

02.11 United States v. Ferguson

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

02.13 Watch Corporate America Turn A Room Full Of Workers Into Bernie Sanders And Donald Trump Supporters [3:30 video]

02.10 The five fears stalking the global banking industry

02.10 Stock market rout intensifies amid fears central banks are 'out of ammunition'

02.09 Oil Dictator Dominos

02.09 Robert Reich: Democrats can’t give in to defeatism

02.09 'Panic situation': Asian stocks tumble amid fears of new global recession

02.09 What's holding back the world economy?

International

02.13 US intelligence head warns of Isis chemical attack capability

02.12 Russia Warns of ‘World War’ as Saudi Plans Syria Intervention

02.12 Partial Syria ceasefire agreed at talks in Munich

02.12 Stock markets hit by global rout raising fears for financial sector

02.11 Migrant crisis: Nato deploys Aegean people-smuggling patrols [why not provide ferry service to avoid the many drownings? Why not pay Greece—desperate for economic help—to provide camps?]

02.11 Israel: Friedman of the NY Times surrenders to One-State Solution, sees ME Apocalypse

02.11 Let’s End the Peril of a Nuclear Winter

02.11 How to Build a Streetcar That Works

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web


Public Service Ads: