Tags: Bush: | Geneva | Convention | Covers | Taliban

Bush: Geneva Convention Covers Taliban

Thursday, 07 February 2002 12:00 AM

"Consistent with American values and principles of the Geneva Convention, America has treated and will continue to treat all Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees in Guantanamo Bay humanely and consistent with the principles of the Geneva Convention," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said.

"They will continue to receive three meals a day, excellent medical care, clothing, shelter, showers and the opportunity to worship."

President Bush has been opposed to giving any of the detainees prisoner-of-war status under the Geneva Convention. Instead, the Department of Defense designated the detainees as "unlawful combatants." Senior Bush administration officials maintained that the fighters represented a terrorist organization, not a government, thereby removing their protections and rights under the Convention.

Fleischer said there would be no difference in how the two groups of prisoners were treated, however.

"It will not change their material life on a day-to-day basis," Fleischer said. "They will continue to be treated well, because that's what the United States does."

The Geneva Convention would cover the Taliban fighters because Afghanistan is party to it. Al-Qaeda guerrillas are not because they were not part of a military hierarchy, did not have official uniforms, carry military weapons openly or conduct their military operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war, the White House said.

Fleischer said the decision not to call any of the detainees "POWs" was made weeks ago.

The U.S. military built more than 300 holding cells on the Cuban base. The detention area is known as Camp X-Ray. Twenty-eight new arrivals from Afghanistan on Thursday joined the 158 detainees already in the camp.

Groups such as Amnesty International criticized the U.S. treatment of the detainees - even though they are living in better conditions than they were in Afghanistan - claiming that transporting them in full restraints, restricting their movement during the 20-hour flight and shaving their lice-ridden heads might be prohibited by international law. The White House said Thursday that International Red Cross would have access to the detainees.

One of the stipulations of the Geneva Convention holds that a three-person tribunal should be convened to determine any doubts about the status of a prisoner. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday that the tribunal, separate from the military tribunals also being talked about to try terrorists, was no longer needed as the president's decision removed any doubts about the prisoners' standing.

"There is no doubt," Rumsfeld said. "He has come to that conclusion."

Rumsfeld also said that the three-person screening process already took place in a sense, because Defense Department, Justice Department and CIA officers sorted the prisoners in the camps in Afghanistan and in Cuba.

"That sifting has taken place on an individual basis," he said. Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Consistent with American values and principles of the Geneva Convention, America has treated and will continue to treat all Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees in Guantanamo Bay humanely and consistent with the principles of the Geneva Convention, White House Press Secretary...
Bush:,Geneva,Convention,Covers,Taliban
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2002-00-07
Thursday, 07 February 2002 12:00 AM
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