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US detention executive orders - the ICRC position

30-01-2009 FAQ

 What is the position of the ICRC following the recent detention-related announcements by US President Obama?  

The ICRC welcomes the various detention-related decisions taken by the United States and formalized in several Executive Orders issued by President Obama on 22 January 2009. It particularly welcomes the decision to provide the ICRC with notification of all detainees held by the United States in any armed conflict and timely access to them.

The ICRC looks forward to the results of the reviews ordered by President Obama on several issues related to Guantanamo and US detention policy.

 How does the ICRC interpret the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo and the suspension of Military Commissions?  

With regards to the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and the suspension of the Military Commissions held there, the ICRC believes these initiatives will offer the opportunity for a thorough review of the status of all persons interned at Guantanamo and of the conditions and procedures governing their fate.

The ICRC has long maintained that it is possible to fight terrorism effectively while treating those in one's power, such as detainees, with respect for their humanity and dignity, as stipulated by international humanitarian law and other relevant legal frameworks. There is no contradiction between State security and the protection of the rights and liberties of individuals and the fact that President Obama decided to act so rapidly and decisively is significant and important.

 Will the ICRC continue to assist persons held by the US in relation to the fight against terrorism?  

The ICRC has carried out over 30 visits to Guantanamo since January 2002 and regularly visits detainees held by the US in Iraq and in Afghanistan. It will continue its visits to Guantanamo until the facility is closed.

The ICRC is hopeful the reviews ordered by President Obama will result in a clear legal framework governing the detention of all persons held by the US in relation to conflict or the fight against terrorism and respect for legal guarantees and procedures regarding prosecutions, releases and transfers. The ICRC looks forward to providing whatever input may be requested by the United States government as part of the reviews announced by President Obama.

See also US detention related to the fight against terrorism – the role of the ICRC .