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4/1/03 - IRAQI PRISONERS OF WAR - 2003-04-01

According to news reports, and contrary to the laws of war, Iraqis have used women and children as human shields. And they have pretended to surrender and then opened fire on coalition troops.

Moreover, and contrary to the laws of war, Iraqi forces loyal to Saddam Hussein have reportedly executed captured coalition troops and mistreated others.

In contrast to Iraq’s mistreatment of coalition prisoners-of-war, the more than four-thousand captured Iraqis have been sent to prisoner-of-war camps or, if wounded, to medical facilities. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that the U.S. and its coalition allies are committed to protecting the rights of coalition-held prisoners:

“We have always treated people humanely, consistent with international agreements. In the case of the fight in Iraq, there’s no question that it’s being done in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.”

Coalition forces take all possible measures to accommodate the dietary needs of Iraqi war prisoners, including the provision of meals that meet the prisoners’ religious preferences. Their rations are similar to those distributed to U.S. troops.

Wounded Iraqi prisoners-of-war are being treated on a U.S. hospital ship in the Persian Gulf. Lieutenant Garrett Kasper, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said the U.S. is treating the injured from both sides and giving them the best care possible. At the same time, said Lieutenant Kasper, the U.S. is trying to respect the privacy of Iraqi prisoners to avoid possible reprisals against their families by the regime of Saddam Hussein.

As U.S. Lieutenant Colonel John Charlton said, “Once they do surrender, we have certain obligations to them. We’ve made those promises in our leaflet drops and have certain obligations under the Geneva Conventions. We will honor those obligations.”