Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Geneva Rights At Guantanamo Bay

All US military detainees, including those at Guantanamo Bay, are to be treated in line with the minimum standards of the Geneva Conventions. The White House announced the shift in policy almost two weeks after the US Supreme Court ruled that the conventions applied to detainees.

President Bush had long fought the idea that US detainees were prisoners of war entitled to Geneva Convention rights. When the detention center was established in 2002, President Bush ordered that detainees be treated "humanely, and to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva". They have lost this round, and with Congressional hearings this issue, indeed, Guantanamo Bay's future is at stake.

The Pentagon outlined the new standards to the military in a 7 July memo. The directive says all military detainees are entitled to humane treatment and to certain basic legal standards when they come to trial, as required by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. The military has been using the site to house hundreds of detainees, many believed to have been picked up off battlefields in Afghanistan.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said that the Pentagon directive did not represent a change: "It is not really a reversal of policy. Humane treatment has always been the standard," according to the BBC. What is more ludicrous, the fact that it has taken over four years for detainees to receive “rights” under the Geneva Convention? Or that the White House is so deluded with the idea that the Pentagon, i.e. military had been treating the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay humanely? I leave the answer to the reader, as I shake my head.

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