U.S. Treatment of Prisoners in Iraq: Selected Legal Issues [Updated October 27, 2005] [open pdf - 174KB]
"The 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 report1 was the result of an Army investigation initiated after a soldier turned over to military law enforcers 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. A report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) relating to the treatment of prisoners by U.S. forces was also made public. The results of several investigations initiated by the Department of Defense (DOD) have been presented to Congress. Congress included several measures in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2005, Pub. Law 108-375, to address the treatment of detainees and jurisdiction over persons responsible for their abuse. As new allegations of prisoner maltreatment continue to surface, congressional interest in the matter is not likely to diminish any time soon. This report summarizes pertinent provisions of the four 1949 Geneva Conventions Relative to the Treatment of Victims of War and other international agreements concerning the treatment of certain types of prisoners. The report begins with a discussion of international and U.S. standards regarding 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 or U.S. federal courts."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32395