BAGHDAD, 8 Oct 2003 (IRIN) - The United States is trying to sidestep its obligations under the Geneva Convention by creating new categories of prisoners it is holding in Iraq, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) spokesman has warned.
In Iraq, the US military has categorised about 4,000 of its prisoners as "security detainees", a classification not covered by the Geneva Conventions, a set of international war rules agreed to by many countries, according to HRW. "A 'security detainee' is any individual who has committed a crime against US-led coalition forces," US Brig-Gen Janis Karpinsky, who is in charge of all detainees in Iraq, told IRIN in the capital, Baghdad.
"Prisoners are taken into the system, and within 72 hours they're given an initial review, and a determination is made on their status," US Brig-Gen Janis Karpinsky said. "Depending on the category, they're afforded the opportunity for a magistrate review, or a tribunal," she added.
"I think the main complaint that people might have is that due process might have been delayed. But we're clearing that. We've been doing the right thing, just not as quickly as some people would like," US Brig-Gen Janis Karpinsky asserted.
"Some of them will be charged with war crimes possibly, some of them will be charged with crimes against the coalition, simply security threats, or could be charged with terrorism or acts against Iraq particularly," US Brig-Gen Janis Karpinsky explained.
"I can tell you there's sometimes a light on all the time, but there is no torture, there is no abuse, there is no violent extraction of information in any of our facilities," US Brig-Gen Janis Karpinsky stated.
Karpinsky also admitted that conditions for prisoners were not of the best, but pointed out that many US-led coalition troops lived under the same conditions. "You can't keep prisoners at a level of treatment or housing or feeding that is vastly different than the coalition members are living," she noted. "We're doing everything possible, given the situation and the setting, that they're being treated humanely," she added.
(edited by MPC)