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U.S. Policy on Detainees Draws Fire

April 16, 2002|From Associated Press

LONDON — The treatment of Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects at the U.S. military base in Cuba undermines human rights and may be cruel and degrading, Amnesty International said Monday.

In a 62-page memo sent to the U.S. government, the human rights group also accused Washington of flouting international law by refusing detainees access to legal counsel.

"The U.S. government must ensure that all its actions in relation to those in its custody in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay comply with international law and standards," the group said. "This is crucial if justice is to be done and seen to be done, and if respect for the rule of law and human rights is not to be undermined."

The U.S. Embassy in London declined to comment on the report. U.S. military officials say about 300 detainees from 33 countries are being held.

Human rights groups have expressed concern that Washington is reserving the right to try the captives on its own terms and is calling them "unlawful combatants" instead of "prisoners of war"--a designation that would bring them under the Geneva Convention.

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