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

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education

08.27 The Con Artistry of Charter Schools

08.24 How the US Helped ISIS Grow Into a Monster

Letters
Open Letters:

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

08.28 If Not D.A.R.E., Then What?

08.28 Big power out, solar in: UBS urges investors to join renewables revolution

08.28 London to get hybrid buses that could charge wirelessly

08.28 Climate change mitigation a business opportunity for UK firms, Davey says

08.27 How Doctors See the Syrian Civil War

08.27 Obama Seeking Global Climate Accord in Lieu of a Treaty

08.27 Global warming is already here and could be irreversible, UN panel says

08.27 New coal power stations threat to EU’s emissions target

08.26 Hearings planned after call for nuke-plant closure

08.26 The 1,300 Bird Species Facing Extinction Signal Threats to Human Health

News Media

08.26 Why Rand Paul Is a Press Management Wizard

Daily FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

Justice Matters

08.28 The Extreme Partisanship of John Roberts's Supreme Court

US Politics, Policy & Culture

08.28 'We're Like Animals To Them': An American City's Daily Racism

08.26 Cutting the Corporate Tax Would Make Other Problems Grow

08.26 Bullets and Ballots

08.25 Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common. It’s time for America to own up

08.25 The Effects of Chicago's Violence on Children: Best #Cityreads of the Week

08.24 Wilson supporters 'won't live in fear'

High Crimes?

08.24 Gaza highrises flattened by Israel

Economics, Crony Capitalism

08.26 Colonization by Bankruptcy: The High-stakes Chess Match for Argentina

08.26 Tax Dodge Used by Bain Escapes Scrutiny on Inversions

08.26 Amazon at odds with Germany over strong union tradition

08.25 ROBOTS ABLE TO PICK PEPPERS, TEST SOIL, AND PRUNE PLANTS AIM TO REPLACE FARM WORKERS

08.25 Burger King the Latest to Jump on the Corporate Tax Inversion Bandwagon

08.25 The Data Brokers: Selling your personal information [14:22 video]

08.25 How the web lost its way – and its founding principles

International

08.28 Ukraine Sees Russian Invasion as Rebel Assaults Intensify

08.28 The Procrastination Doom Loop—and How to Break It

08.28 Dueling Jihadists: Is the Islamic State Beating Al-Qaida?

08.28 Forgotten in Iraq: Besieged City Faces Destruction by the Islamic State

08.28 Factory and Lab: Israel's War Business

08.27 U.S. Mobilizes Allies to Widen Assault on ISIS Militants

08.27 Pentagon: Isis has global aspirations

08.26 Cutting the Corporate Tax Would Make Other Problems Grow

08.26 The Problem With Bombing ISIS

08.26 UAE and Egypt behind bombing raids against Libyan militias, say US officials

08.26 Friends of Israel

08.25 France thrown into political turmoil after government dissolved

08.25 Libyan capital under Islamist control after Tripoli airport seized

08.25 US: no ransom paid for journalist freed in Syria

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: