U.S. Treatment of Prisoners in Iraq: Selected Legal Issues
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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A recent Army report charging that U.S. Military Police and other personnel, including civilian contractor personnel, abused Iraqi prisoners held under the authority of the Coalition Provisional Authority CPA has given rise to questions regarding the applicable law. The report was the result of an Army investigation initiated after a soldier turned over to military law enforcers photographs depicting U.S. military personnel subjecting Iraqi detainees to treatment that has been described as degrading, inhumane, and in some cases, tantamount to torture. A report by the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC relating to the treatment of prisoners by U.S. forces was also made public. The international law of armed conflict, in particular, those parts relating to belligerent occupation, applies in Iraq. The four Geneva Conventions of 1949 related to the treatment of prisoners of war POW and civilian detainees, as well as the Hague Regulations define the status of detainees and state responsibility for their treatment. Other international law relevant to human rights and to the treatment of prisoners may also apply. This report summarizes pertinent provisions of the Geneva Conventions Relative to the Treatment of Victims of War Geneva Conventions and other international agreements concerning the treatment of certain types of prisoners. The report begins with a discussion of international and U.S. standards regarding the treatment of prisoners. A discussion of accountability in case of breach of these standards follows, including potential means of asserting jurisdiction over alleged violators, either in military courts or U.S. federal courts. Finally, the report discusses international requirements and U.S. procedures to provide redress for those whose treatment at the hands of U.S. officials may have fallen below the standards outlined in the first section of the report.
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