Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Red Cross Barred from US Secret Prisons, Rebukes US Policy

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday deplored the refusal of the U.S. administration to allow its neutral delegates to visit people being held in secret detention.
In an unusually strongly worded statement, the agency known for its discretion expressed disappointment that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other officials refused to yield to the demand.
“No matter how legitimate the grounds for detention, there exists no right to conceal a person's whereabouts or to deny that he or she is being detained,” said Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, following a series of top-level meetings in Washington.
The ICRC is designated by the Geneva Conventions on warfare as the organization to visit prisoners of war. It is the only independent body the United States lets visit terror suspects detained in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but it has long been demanding access to detainees held in “undisclosed locations.”
“Speaking after his meetings, Mr. Kellenberger deplored the fact that the U.S. authorities had not moved closer to granting the ICRC access to persons held in undisclosed locations,” said an ICRC statement issued Friday.

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