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07 February 2002

Fact Sheet: White House on Status of Detainees at Guantanamo

(Says treatment consistent with principles of Geneva Convention) (710)
Following is the text of a White House fact sheet, released February
7, on the status of detainees at the U.S. base at Guantanamo, Cuba:
(begin text)
Office of the Press Secretary
February 7, 2002
Status of Detainees at Guantanamo
United States Policy.
-- The United States is treating and will continue to treat all of the
individuals detained at Guantanamo humanely and, to the extent
appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner
consistent with the principles of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949.
-- The President has determined that the Geneva Convention applies to
the Taliban detainees, but not to the al-Qaida detainees.
-- Al-Qaida is not a state party to the Geneva Convention; it is a
foreign terrorist group. As such, its members are not entitled to POW
-- Although we never recognized the Taliban as the legitimate Afghan
government, Afghanistan is a party to the Convention, and the
President has determined that the Taliban are covered by the
Convention. Under the terms of the Geneva Convention, however, the
Taliban detainees do not qualify as POWs.
-- Therefore, neither the Taliban nor al-Qaida detainees are entitled
to POW status.
-- Even though the detainees are not entitled to POW privileges, they
will be provided many POW privileges as a matter of policy.
All detainees at Guantanamo are being provided:
-- three meals a day that meet Muslim dietary laws
-- water
-- medical care
-- clothing and shoes
-- shelter
-- showers
-- soap and toilet articles
-- foam sleeping pads and blankets
-- towels and washcloths
-- the opportunity to worship
-- correspondence materials, and the means to send mail
-- the ability to receive packages of food and clothing, subject to
security screening
The detainees will not be subjected to physical or mental abuse or
cruel treatment. The International Committee of the Red Cross has
visited and will continue to be able to visit the detainees privately.
The detainees will be permitted to raise concerns about their
conditions and we will attempt to address those concerns consistent
with security.
Housing. We are building facilities in Guantanamo more appropriate for
housing the detainees on a long-term basis. The detainees now at
Guantanamo are being housed in temporary open-air shelters until these
more long-term facilities can be arranged. Their current shelters are
reasonable in light of the serious security risk posed by these
detainees and the mild climate of Cuba.
POW Privileges the Detainees will not receive. The detainees will
receive much of the treatment normally afforded to POWs by the Third
Geneva Convention. However, the detainees will not receive some of the
specific privileges afforded to POWs, including:
-- access to a canteen to purchase food, soap, and tobacco
-- a monthly advance of pay
-- the ability to have and consult personal financial accounts
-- the ability to receive scientific equipment, musical instruments,
or sports outfits
Many detainees at Guantanamo pose a severe security risk to those
responsible for guarding them and to each other. Some of these
individuals demonstrated how dangerous they are in uprisings at
Mazar-e-Sharif and in Pakistan. The United States must take into
account the need for security in establishing the conditions for
detention at Guantanamo.
Background on Geneva Conventions. The Third Geneva Convention of 1949
is an international treaty designed to protect prisoners of war from
inhumane treatment at the hands of their captors in conflicts covered
by the Convention. It is among four treaties concluded in the wake of
WWII to reduce the human suffering caused by war. These four treaties
provide protections for four different classes of people: the military
wounded and sick in land conflicts; the military wounded, sick and
shipwrecked in conflicts at sea; military persons and civilians
accompanying the armed forces in the field who are captured and
qualify as prisoners of war; and civilian non-combatants who are
interned or otherwise found in the hands of a party (e.g. in a
military occupation) during an armed conflict.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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