Thursday, February 16, 2006

Red Cross: Abu Ghraib Abuse Against International Law

From Reuters:

GENEVA (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday the latest images of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison showed clear violations of international humanitarian law.

However, the Swiss-based body, whose confidential reports have previously accused the U.S. military of using tactics "tantamount to torture" on inmates at the Baghdad jail, declined to say whether it would raise the issue again with Washington.

An Australian television station broadcast what it said were previously unpublished images of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the facility, fuelling Arab anger against the United States.

"We are shocked and dismayed at the mistreatment and abuse displayed in these images," ICRC spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas told Reuters in Geneva.

"The type of treatment in these images -- video or photos -- very clearly violates the rules of international humanitarian law which are designed to protect people detained in the context of armed conflict," she added.

The 1949 Geneva Conventions protecting people captured in conflict -- which the ICRC seeks to uphold -- "forbid torture as well as any cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under any circumstance", according to the spokeswoman.


The ICRC visits prisoners in 80 countries worldwide, assessing conditions of detention and treatment of detainees. It also exchanges messages between detainees and their families.

In a damning report on the treatment of prisoners leaked in 2004, the ICRC spoke of U.S. mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, including keeping them naked for days in darkness, that "in some cases was tantamount to torture".

ICRC officials began visits to detention centers run by U.S. and other multinational forces in April 2003, a month after the invasion which ousted Saddam Hussein.

They have been unable to go to Abu Ghraib since January 2005 due to lack of security, Krimitsas said. "It is unfortunate."

How about an independent investigation into "alleged" prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, Camp Bagram in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, and the secret CIA black sites in Eastern Europe?

If the U.S. does not engage in torture or prisoner abuse, as Preznit Bush says, then the preznit should have no problem opening up American prison sites in the war on terror to the International Red Cross or Amnesty International.

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