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US still denying access to terror detainees: Red Cross

[JURIST] International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website] officials said on Friday that the US has once again refused to grant the watchdog access to terror detainees [press release] held in covert prisons following discussions between ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger and top White House officials in Washington and Kellenberger on Friday deplored the lack of progress [AP report] on the issue. Kellenberger arranged the meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [official profile] and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] among others in an effort to secure access to detainees in secret prisons [JURIST reports] around the world. Although Kellenberger suggested that the alleged secret detentions may be lawful, he stressed the need for access to ensure "clear legal status and procedural safeguards."

As designated under the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials], the ICRC assesses the condition of prisoners of war and remains the only independent body the US permits to visit prisoners it has detained throughout the world. Several investigations into secret CIA prisons and extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] have been launched in the past year, although no definite proof of the detention centers has materialized and a recent report [JURIST report] by the Council of Europe found no evidence of such prisons in Europe. Members of the European Parliament are continuing their investigation [JURIST report] into the allegations. Reuters has more.

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