The Supreme Court has ruled 5-3 in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld the Bush administration has violated the Geneva Convention and the Uniform Code of Military Justice in trying to implement war crimes trials at Guantánamo prison camp. Justice John Paul Stevens writing for the court said the proposed military-commission trbunals were illegal and would not be appropriate judicial venues for trial.
See additional violations of the Geneva Convention.
America has so blatantly and cynically violated the convention despite the Constitutional mandate that treaties are a component of the supreme law of the land. Rogue states tend to act like this and the U.S. has used the September 11 attacks as an excuse to act without restraint with methods and in a manner of its own choosing. As a result of this egregious flouting of its provisions, American POW are at even greater risk as we saw with the recent brutal murders of two soldiers that had been captured by the Iraqi resistance forces. If I were a soldier, I would be more concerned about my well-being if the adversary's POW were being mistreated.
First let's identify this magisterial document:
"Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War."
It was adopted on August 12, 1949 after months of deliberations in Geneva, Switzerland by the Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of International Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War. It entered into force on October 21, 1950. This means on that date the High Contracting Parties (nation-states that agreed to the convention) were obligated to adhere to its components.
Article 3, Clause 1 (a) prohibits "violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture."
This blog has chronicled repeated violations of this article. American military and intelligence personnel have savagely murdered, tortured and inflicted cruel treatment on both Iraqi, Afghani and third-country POW in support of the Iraq resistance or Taliban. Some refer to other conventions and documents that specify torture but the Geneva Convention is unambiguous in its proscription of such action.
Article 3, Clause 1 (C) prohibits "Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment."
The images of Abu Ghraib with dogs snapping, dogs growling, nude POW piled on pyramids, beatings and torture is what American stands for in its approach to war. Yes we want to believe that America wages war honourably but it does not. Of course some military personnel do so, but senior leadership either condones or avoids a serious retribution for violating the Geneva Convention. The Bush administration has even said it does not apply to those taken from the battlefield in Afghanistan and sent to the death camp at Guantánamo. It says it does not apply to those POW who are somewhere in the terrorist nation's extraordinary rendition Gulag throughout the world. Such is the cynical disregard for the fragile but heroic efforts of civilised nations to establish some limits to the rules of armed conflict.
Article 13 reiterates the need to protect the victims of war. "Prisoners of War must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act…causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited."
An Iraqi general was murdered while under confinement; Iraqi POW have been thrown off bridges into rivers; some have been randomly shot after surrendering.
Article 13 of the "Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War" (1949) states: "Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity." In addition, "Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited."
Examples from desecrating the Qur'an, to thousands of examples of verbal abuse are obvious. However, "public curiosity" is significant. This means a POW cannot be showcased, cannot presumably be photographed, interviewed or thier images released that are used as propaganda or that violate their privacy. POW cannot be displayed for spectators to see and visit. President Saddam Hussein, who certainly was the chief military official of Iraq, was photographed including the inside of his mouth when he was "examined" subsequent to his December 13, 2003 apprehension near Tikrit. Additional photographs of him in a disheveled appearance after his capture were released throughout the world. In 1979 the president became Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and acquired Staff Field Marshal army rank. He clearly was a military person under the Geneva Convention and a POW; yet these photos were an egregious violation of international law and Article 13 proscription against "public curiosity" display.
Article 17. When one becomes a POW, they are only required to give their name, date of birth and "army regimental, personal or serial number." They do not have to reveal names, locations or identity of third parties. They do not have to reveal strategies and tactics. The U.S. has tortured POW who have withheld information at Camp Nama, Abu Ghraib and certainly at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The United States cannot force information from a POW:
Read this war criminals in the U.S. intelligence and military services: "No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever."
Would such a card have value today for either soldier or accompanying civilian due to U.S. refusal to abide by its own accession and Constitutional obligations with regard to the convention?
Even if a POW does not provide the required information above, they cannot be punished for it. If a POW is an officer and does not reveal his or her rank, they do forfeit preferential treatment that is to be afforded officers over enlisted men and women. Yes rank of POW is important in terms of treatment, work required etc.
Article 23 "Detaining powers (that refers to the country that holds the POW) shall give…all useful information regarding the geographical location of prisoner of war camps."
The U.S. has not revealed much less granted the Red Cross access to European and possibly Middle East and Central Asian concentration camps where kidnapped POW have been sequestered. Extraordinary rendition is right out of the playbook of the Gestapo. Kidnap, brutalise, whisk away suspects to remote locations which are not publicised and not subject to inspection or monitoring under international law.
Article 46 is related to his inhumane violation as well:
"The transfer of prisoners shall always be effected humanely and in conditions not less favourable than those under which the forces of the Detaining Power are transferred."
We want to spread democracy we are told yet we act like a brutal, imperial power that is the greatest threat to democracy in the world today. A ruthless nation with a lawless approach to the delicate network of laws and conventions established to try to bring some order and