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ICRC chief says US detainee law 'disrupts integrity' of Geneva Conventions

[JURIST] International Committee of the Red Cross [advocacy website] President Jakob Kellenberger [ICRC profile] said Thursday that certain provisions of the newly-signed [JURIST report] Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) [PDF text; S 3930 summary] are too vague and could weaken protections guaranteed under the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials]. In an interview [transcript], Kellenberger expressed particular concern with the Act's broad definition of "unlawful enemy combatant" and the lack of an express prohibition on using evidence obtained through coercion. He also highlighted the importance of preserving the integrity of Common Article 3 [text] of the Conventions, which he said that the act does not fully accept, omitting some violations such as a prohibition of humiliating and degrading treatment, and a prohibition of the denial of a right to a fair trial.

The Bush Administration has promoted the MCA [White House fact sheet] as a law that will save American lives, primarily by allowing the CIA's prisoner interrogation program to keep operating. On Wednesday US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insisted once again [JURIST report] that the measure provides every suspect with a full and fair trial, consistent with America's obligations under international and domestic law. Reuters has more.

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