Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Friday, May 14, 2004  

The Crimes of War Project has an analysis out today that compares the pictures of abuses in Abu Ghraib against US law and international treaties. According to the author, Anthony Dworkin, there are three relevant policies. He consequently contends that "there is no question that the abuses revealed in the photographs taken at Abu Ghraib represent a clear violation of all these bodies of law. They also represent violations of U.S. Army regulations and U.S. law." The particular provisions follow.

Geneva Conventions
Under the Geneva Conventions, all detainees fall into one of two categories. Either they are prisoners of war (whose rights are set out in the 3rd Geneva Convention) or they are civilians who are being held as criminal suspects or "for imperative reasons of security" whose rights are specified in the 4th Convention....

The 4th Geneva Convention applies to all people who "find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals," and who are not covered by the other Conventions. They must "at all times be humanely treated" and protected "against all acts of violence or threats thereof" (Article 27). The Convention requires that no "physical or moral coercion" should be exercised against those covered by it, "in particular to obtain information from them or from third parties" (Article 31).

Customary International Law
Fundamental guarantees that would be accepted as customary law are listed in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and Article 75 of the first Additional Protocol of 1977. Common Article 3 requires that detainees "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely." Murder, cruel treatment and torture are forbidden, as are "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment."

The Torture Convention
The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was agreed in 1984 and ratified by the United States in 1994. It defines torture as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person," and prohibits it under all circumstances. It also prohibits government agents from carrying out "other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

posted by Jeff | 2:26 PM |
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