Home » U.S. Treatment of Prisoners in Iraq: Selected Legal Issues by Jennifer K. Elsea
U.S. Treatment of Prisoners in Iraq: Selected Legal Issues Jennifer K. Elsea

U.S. Treatment of Prisoners in Iraq: Selected Legal Issues

Jennifer K. Elsea

Published May 19th 2005
ISBN :
Kindle Edition
41 pages
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 About the Book 

Photographs depicting the apparent abuse of Iraqi detainees at the hands of U.S. military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq have resulted in numerous investigations, congressional hearings, and prosecutions, raising questions regarding theMorePhotographs depicting the apparent abuse of Iraqi detainees at the hands of U.S. military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq have resulted in numerous investigations, congressional hearings, and prosecutions, raising questions regarding the applicable law. 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. For example, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibits “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” The U.N. Declaration on Human Rights and the U.N. Convention Against Torture (CAT) is also relevant. Federal statutes that implement the relevant international law, such as the War Crimes Act of 1996 and the Torture Victim Protection Act, as well as other criminal statutes with extraterritorial application may also come into play. Finally, the law of Iraq as amended by regulations issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) may apply in some circumstances.This report summarizes pertinent provisions of the Geneva Conventions Relative to the Treatment of Victims of War (Geneva Conventions) and other relevant international agreements. The report begins with a discussion of international and U.S. standards pertaining to 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 under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) or U.S. federal courts, by applying U.S. criminal statutes that explicitly apply extraterritorially or within the special maritime or territorial jurisdiction of the United States (as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 7), or by means of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA). The section that follows discusses international requirements 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. Finally, the report summarizes relevant congressional activity during the 108th and 109th Congresses, including a brief discussion of the anti-torture provision of P.L.109-13 (H.R. 1268). This report will be updated.