Iraq TV display of US soldiers violates Geneva Convention - Rumsfeld

[JURIST] US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said Iraq TV's display Sunday of what it claimed were dead and captured US soldiers is a violation of terms of the Geneva Convention. "The Geneva Convention indicates that it's not permitted to photograph and embarrass or humiliate prisoners of war," Rumsfeld said on CBS' Face the Nation. Review the terms of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War [text], Article 13 of which states: "prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity."

The US Army Judge Advocate General's Law of War Workshop Deskbook 2000, Chapter 5 - POWs and Detainees [DOC], gives the following guidance on Article 13 for US personnel dealing with EPWs (Enemy Prisoners of War):

Protect against public curiosity.

1. Art. 13 does not per se prohibit photographing an EPW. Photos may not degrade or humiliate an EPW. In addition, balance harm to an EPW and family against news media value. Bottom line: strict guidelines required.
2. This is in stark contrast to Iraq and North Vietnam’s practice of parading POWs before the news media.
UPDATE [3:38 PM]: On his return from Camp David Sunday, President Bush said this about the US prisoners shown on Iraqi TV: "I expect them to be treated, the POWs I expect to be treated humanely. And -- just like we're treating the prisoners that we have captured humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals." A full transcript of the President's remarks is now online from the White House.

UPDATE [4:26 PM ET]: US Central Command has just issued a press release saying:
Out of respect for the families and consistent with the principles of the Geneva Conventions:

1) We request news organizations not air or publish recognizable images or audio recordings that identify POWs. Additionally, we request you not use their names, first or last, or their unit until next-of-kin notification is complete. We are working hard to reach their families. We will notify you as soon as this is done.
Read the full text of the CENTCOM press release.

 

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