Tuesday, July 11, 2006

US detainees to get Geneva rights

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. 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 Bush administration has come under intense and sustained international criticism for its treatment of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The military has been using the site to house hundreds of detainees, many believed to have been picked up off battlefields in Afghanistan.

At the end of June, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that the Bush administration did not by itself have the authority to order that the detainees be tried by military commission. It said its decision was based on both US military law and the Geneva Conventions - asserting for the first time in US law that the detainees were entitled to Geneva protections.



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