Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The rule of law prevails: Protections of Geneva Conventions to be extended to Guantanamo Bay

By Diane Silver

It may have taken a Supreme Court ruling to force George W. Bush to follow the rule of law, but the White House has finally given in. I am heartened to learn that the Pentagon today says that the Geneva Conventions will now apply to detainees in the war on terror, including those at Guantanamo Bay. Torture and inhumane treatment will no longer be condoned.

It turns my stomach, though, to realize that it is news -- big news -- for my country to announce that it is finally following a treaty we signed. Worse is the fact that any American administration has to be forced into turning its back on torture.

Bush and company claim they are not mistreating prisoners, but a multitude of reports say otherwise. Check out this article from Sunday's Washington Post, for example, about how doctors are both "passive and active partners" in the abuse of detainees.

The Washington Post reports:
Since 2001, the administration has argued that the Geneva Conventions would be respected as a matter of policy but that they did not apply by law. The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, rejected that view.

The Geneva Conventions are a series of treaties and protocols, formulated in Geneva, Switzerland, setting standards for humane treatment of combatants and
civilians during time of war. The United States, Afghanistan and Iraq are among the signatories.

The relevant provisions of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions prohibits violence to prisoners, cruel treatment, torture and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment."

It also provides for sentences only as "pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."
The kangaroo court military tribunals set up by Bush and company did not meet this guideline.

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