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In Legal Limbo? The status and rights of detainees from the 2001 war in Afghanistan

During the 2001 war in Afghanistan hundreds of people associated with the Taliban or al Qaeda were arrested by United States forces and transported to the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The legal status and treatment of these detainees has been an ongoing problem over the last five years. The majority have been given no recourse to justice and allegations of inhuman treatment and torture have been frequent. The first issue raised by the incarceration of these people is whether any of them may be entitled to Prisoner of War status. The evidence shows that, in general, the Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters were not lawful combatants, and hence they are not entitled to Prisoner of War status. While the rights of Prisoners of War are well documented and generally uncontested, the rights of people not entitled to Prisoner of War status are not so easily definable. Despite classification as unlawful or unprivileged combatants, the detainees are not in legal limbo - they are still entitled to the benefit of certain fundamental human rights. There are applicable protections under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Additional Protocol I, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Convention Against Torture. The main rights upheld by these documents are the right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention; the right to a fair trial; and the right to life. Furthermore, there is a requirement of humane treatment and an absolute prohibition on torture. Reports from international humanitarian watchdogs such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch suggest that the United States Government is not upholding the rights held by the detainees. It is essential that the United States Government recognises the fundamental rights owed to the detainees and ensures that they receive the requisite treatment and access to justice.
Type of thesis
Vant, M. (2007). In Legal Limbo? The status and rights of detainees from the 2001 war in Afghanistan (Thesis, Master of Laws (LLM)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2448
The University of Waikato
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