'Protected Person' Status in Occupied Iraq under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Memorandum Opinion for the Counsel to the President [March 18, 2004] [open pdf - 155KB]
This memorandum from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel addresses the status of prisoners captured by U.S. forces in Iraq. "The Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War ('GC') provides 'protected persons' with certain protections if they 'find themselves' in occupied territory or in the home territory of a party to an armed conflict. See Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War art. 4, Aug. 12, 1949, 6 U.S.T. 3516, 75 U.N.T.S. 287. You have sought guidance on whether various categories of persons captured by U.S. forces in occupied Iraq--and, in particular, al Qaeda operatives--have 'protected person' status under GC. Part I of our opinion discusses the threshold issue of when GC 'applies' to an armed conflict or occupation and concludes that GC governs the United States occupation of Iraq. Part II addresses GC's general criteria for determining 'protected person' status, as well as the categories of persons that GC clearly excludes from its definition of 'protected persons.' Part III addresses the status of al Qaeda operatives in occupied Iraq. It concludes that al Qaeda operatives captured in occupied Iraq who are neither citizens nor permanent residents of Iraq are not entitled to 'protected person' status."
U.S. Dept. of Justice: http://www.justice.gov/