- The Red Cross yesterday accused Tony Blair and George
Bush of breaching the Geneva Convention over the shabby treatment of Iraqi
prisoners of war.
- The humanitarian organisation said the true number of
PoWs and their whereabouts was unknown, family visits have been denied
and there was no system in place to monitor arrests or pass on details
to the Red Cross.
- A high-ranking official of the International Committee
of the Red Cross said: "It is an obligation of the occupying power
to notify us of any arrests but that's not happening. We are not receiving
anything like full information on prisoners of war.
- "There is no proper notification. No organisation.
There is not the will to resolve this issue.
- "Talks are now taking place at the highest level
and if we don't make progress then we will be merciless in fighting our
- The shocking series of complaints made by the ICRC include:
- ONLY 2,000 prisoners have so far been seen with many
more unaccounted for.
- RELATIVES are not allowed to visit them even if they
are lucky enough to track them down.
- SO slipshod has been the taking down of Arabic names
of PoWs that they are meaningless, making it impossible for the Red Cross
to track down their families
- NO notification of arrests or where prisoners are held
and no urgency in passing on information.
- Labour MP and leading war critic Tam Dalyell called on
the Prime Minister to urgently resolve the Red Cross grievances. He said:
"He's got to sort this out - or release the PoWs. Not monitoring prisoners
properly will cause huge resentment, especially if those being held are
- "Adding to the perceived injustices of the Iraqi
people will only create more bitterness and lead to more attacks on our
- "It is a catastrophic state of affairs."
- The US has sidestepped some of its responsibilities under
the 50-year-old Geneva Convention because President Bush stopped short
of declaring the war over.
- Under the Convention, once war is declared over the victorious
army must release prisoners of war and halt operations targeting specific
leaders. Human rights group Amnesty International has called on the US
and British forces to give Iraqis detained since the beginning of the occupation
the right to meet families and lawyers.
- They are also calling for a judicial review of their
- UK Director Lesley Warner said: "The conditions
of detention Iraqis are held under at the Camp Cropper Centre at Baghdad
International Airport - now a US base - and at Abu Ghraib Prison may amount
to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, banned by international
law." Detainees held in Baghdad have invariably reported that they
suffered cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment immediately after arrest.
- They report being tightly bound with plastic handcuffs
and sometimes denied water and access to a toilet in the first night of
- Amnesty delegates saw numerous ex-detainees with wrists
still scarred by the cuffs a month later. The Red Cross has a policy of
not speaking publicly on the condition of prisoners.
- The official who spoke to the Daily Mirror from Geneva
said: "I shouldn't really be talking to you but the truth is we don't
have a full picture of all the arrests and are not receiving all the information
- The Ministry of Defence said yesterday it worked closely
with the Red Cross .
- A spokesman said: "If the ICRC is raising this issue
then answers will be given to the queries they have raised. We take our
obligations under the Geneva Convention very seriously."