Letter from Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper to Margot Kessler, Member of European Parliament re: Guantanamo Detainees

This letter from Amb. Prosper to Margot Kessler of the European Parliament is in response to a letter Ms. Kessler sent to Sec. of State Powell concerning the status and treatment of detainees at Guantanamo. Amb. Prosper states that "The United States and its Coalition partners are at war with the al Qaida network and remnants of the Taliban who continue to support them. The al Qaida network today is a multinational enterprise with operations in more than 60 countries; there are active hostilities are ongoing daily in Afghanistan and around the world; and We continue to fight against enemy combatants who are planning and conducting attacks against us. He then states that: detainees, regardless of their lack of status as POWs under the Third Geneva Convention of 1949, will be treated consistent with American values and the principles of the international law of armed conflict; United States Government personnel are not permitted to torture detainees or participate in torture by others; and the authority to detain enemy combatants for the duration of hostilities exists in law independent of the civil judicial or criminal justice system. Finally, Amb. Prosper states "The United States is strongly committed to protecting and advancing human rights."

Doc_type: 
Letter
Doc_rel_date: 
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
Doc_text: 

UNCLASSIFIED
RELEASED B7(C)
Ms. Margot Kessler
Mitglied Des Europaeschen Parlaments

Europaeisches Parlaments

Haupstrasse 48

99752 Bleicherode
Germany
Dear Ms. Kessler:

Thank you for your letter of February 14 to Secretary Powell expressing concern related tol B7(C)
The United States and its Coalition partners are at war
with the al Qaida network and remnants of the Taliban who
continue to support them. The al Qaida network today is a
multinational enterprise with operations in more than 60
countries. Active hostilities are ongoing daily in
Afghanistan and around the world. We continue to fight
against enemy combatants who are planning and conducting
attacks against us. In this context, operational and security
concerns compel me to refrain from confirming or commenting on
the circumstances of capture, transfer or detention of
specific individuals believed to be held as enemy combatants
in the course of that conflict.

Let me assure you, however, that President Bush has affirmed on any number of occasions that al Qaida and Taliban detainees, regardless of their lack of status as POWs under the Third Geneva Convention of 1949, will be treated consistent with American values and the principles of the international law of armed conflict. He has determined that United States Armed Forces will treat enemy combatants humanely, and, to the extent consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949. United States Government personnel are not permitted to torture detainees or participate in torture by others. Torture is a violation of
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE REVIEW AUTHORITY: SHARON E AHMAD

UNCLASSIFIED
DATE/CASE ID: 16 NOV 2004 200303827
DOS-000390

UNCLASSIFIED
2

the laws of the United States. Allegations of torture will be
thoroughly investigated. In cases where the United States
Government transfers detainees to other countries for
detention or questioning on out behalf, we seek and receive
assurances that the detainees will not be tortured.

The authority to detain enemy combatants for the duration
of hostilities exists in law independent of the civil judicial
or criminal justice system. In this war, as in every war,
enemy combatants have no legal right to counsel or access to
courts for the purpose of challenging their detention while
hostilities are ongoing. While some enemy combatants may face
criminal prosecution before the end of hostilities, nations at
war traditionally have waited until hostilities cease to bring
such charges. If and when an enemy is charged with a crime,
he would then be entitled to access to counsel and would
receive a fair trial.

The United States is strongly committed to protecting and advancing human rights. Our detainee policy is no exception. We have been vocal on this issue and unwavering in our efforts to urge governments to stop the practice. The law that applies in the context of an armed conflict is the international law of armed conflict. As the International Court of Justice explained in the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, to the extent human rights law is applicable during armed conflict, it must be interpreted in light of the relevant lex specialis as set forth in the body of international humanitarian law. Accordingly, the law to be applied in the context of an armed conflict to determine the legality and conditions of detention is the law and customs of war.
Sincerely,

Pierre-Richard Prosper

UNCLASSIFIED

DOS-000391

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2

Drafted by S/WCI:Rmiller.

75093
Cleared:
L/PM:JADolan - ok
D:Dpittman - ok
P:Bbrink - ok
SA/PAB:JMCNaught ok
EUR/ERA:Drochman - ok
DRL:Mpica - ok

UNCLASSIFIED
DOS-000392

Doc_nid: 
5962
Doc_type_num: 
69