FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Human Rights Group: Geneva Convention Requires US to Treat Guantanamo Bay Prisoners as POWs

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

Lawyers with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a leading constitutional rights and international human rights law group, said today that by failing to classify the Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners held on Guantanamo Bay as prisoners of war, U.S. official may be committing a war crime.

According to CCR Vice President and international human rights attorney, Michael Ratner, Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention clearly states that if there is “any doubt” as to whether those captured are prisoners of war; they must be treated as such “until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.” The U.S. Army, in fact, has regulations setting up such a tribunal to make such determinations. The United States has, however, failed to employ that tribunal and has made a blanket ruling that the prisoners are not P.O.W.s.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld had acknowledged that treating the prisoners, as P.O.W.S. would limit the government’s legal options with regard to trying them. Under the Geneva Convention POWS must be tried by the same courts and under the same procedures, as U.S. soldiers would be. Assuming any of the Guantanamo detainees committed war crimes, they could be tried by court martials or civilian courts but not by military tribunals. Bringing the P.O.W.S. to trial in a military tribunal, therefore, violates the convention. Under Article 130 of the Convention it is a serious crime, a “grave breach,” to deprive “a prisoner of war of the rights of fair and regular trial” required by the convention and is the basis for a war crimes prosecution.

Says Ratner, who spent extensive time at Guantanamo Bay when he represented Haitian refugees being held there and has first hand experience of the conditions at the base, “The U.S. must adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Imagine if those were U.S. soldiers being held in cages in Guantanamo. We would insist that they receive the benefit of international legal protections. By creating new rules as we go along, the U.S. is jeopardizing the rights of U.S. soldiers who may one day be P.O.W.S.”

Added CCR Legal Director, William Goodman: “Picture this: Russian soldiers capture CIA-trained Afghani Mujahadeen circa 1980 and send them to Cuba where they are held in cages. It doesn’t take much imagination to conjure the State Department’s forceful response: Obey the Geneva Conventions and treat this mean as P.O.W.S.,” he said, “We need to do this rights.”

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 29, 2017
Dave Lindorff
Sy Hersh, Exposer of My Lai and Abu Ghraib, Strikes Again, Exposing US Lies About Alleged Assad Sarin ‘Attack’
Chuck Collins
What Happened to America’s Wealth? The Rich Hid It
Rev. William Alberts
When the Bible is the Root of Evil
Jeff Mackler
Trumps ‘No Fly Zone’ Escalates U.S. War Against Syria
Bill Willers
The Next World War Won’t Just Be “Over There” 
Ellen Brown
Sovereign Debt Jubilee, Japanese-Style
Jack Laun
Will There Finally be Peace With Justice in Colombia?
Binoy Kampmark
Holding the Police to Account in the UK
David Swanson
Against Ignoring the KKK
Rima Najjar
Israel’s Illegitimate Tactics Against Palestinian Armed Resistance vs. Legitimate Global Security Concerns
Mel Gurtov
Advise, Assist, Arm: The United States at War
David Welsh
Berkeley Capitulates to Police Militarization and Spying
Marion Andrew
Not Being Considerate of One’s Audience: US Television’s Coverage of Olympic and International Sports
June 28, 2017
Diana Johnstone
Macron’s Mission: Save the European Union From Itself
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Andrew Stewart
Health Care for All: Why I Occupied Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Office
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A.
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail