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Treatment of Afghan prisoners violates international & US law

Greens warn that abuses, secret tribunals, and
double-talk about prisoners' legal status may
squander the international sympathy the U.S. had
after the September 11 attacks
THE GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES

MEDIA RELEASE
For immediate release:
Thursday, January 24, 2002

Contacts:
Nancy Allen, Media Coordinator, 207-326-4576,
nallen (at) acadia.net
Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624,
scottmclarty (at) yahoo.com


U.S. TREATMENT OF AFGHAN PRISONERS VIOLATES
GENEVA CONVENTIONS, U.S. LAW

Greens warn that abuses, secret tribunals, and
double-talk about prisoners' legal status may
squander the international sympathy the U.S. had
after the September 11 attacks


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. may be violating
international rules in the inhumane treatment of
Afghan soldiers taken prisoner in the war against
Afghanistan, said members of the Green Party of
the United States. According to reports,
prisoners have been shackled, shaved in violation
of their religion, blindfolded, held in open-air
cages exposed to the elements, subjected to
intense interrogation that borders on torture,
all of which violate the international Geneva
Convention on the treatment of war prisoners.

"Prisoners may also face execution after a secret
trial by military tribunal -- which would made
the Bush Administration comparable to the regimes
of Saddam Hussein and other despots," said Tom
Sevigny, a Connecticut Green activist and a
member of the party's national steering
committee.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who
promises "a legal decision soon" on the status of
prisoners (Pentagon briefing, Thursday, January
24), has claimed that the prisoners aren't
soldiers, but civilian "unlawful combatants."
According to Rumsfeld, this disqualifies them
from the protections of the 1949 Geneva
Convention rules and the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the
U.S. in 1992, on the treatment of prisoners of
war.

But Greens, the Bar Association of Great Britain,
and other human rights defenders argue that if
the captured Taliban and al Qaeda aren't
soldiers, they must be tried according to
guarantees of due process, since the Fifth
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution makes no
distinction between civilians and foreigners.

"There is no justification for treating the
prisoners as subhuman because the Taliban didn't
give them uniforms," added Sevigny. "The
arguments from Rumsfeld that the U.S. is exempt
from the Geneva Convention on the treatment of
prisoners is sophistry of the worst kind."

The Green Party cites U.N. Commissioner for
Human Rights Mary Robinson, who said, "The armed
conflict in Afghanistan is of an international
nature and the law of international armed
conflict applies. That means the Geneva
Conventions."

"Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention
provides that should there be doubt as to whether
an individual enjoys PoW status, they shall be
treated as such until their status has been
determined by a competent judicial tribunal."



Greens also note that the Bush Administration
isn't likely to rescind its order for secret
military tribunals.

"More and more, the only pacts the U.S. considers
itself bound to honor are the free trade treaties
designed to benefit major corporations," said
Jane Hunter, vice chair of the Green Party of New
Jersey and an international management
consultant. "The result is international
instability and a blow to our valued
international reputation on matters of democracy
and human rights."


MORE INFORMATION

The Green Party of the United States
gpus.org
www.greenpartyus.org


END
 
 

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