U.S. Treatment of Prisoners in Iraq: Selected Legal Issues [May 24, 2004]   [open pdf - 101KB]

"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 enforces 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. 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. 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). Finally, the report 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. This report will be updated."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL32395
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