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Hypocrisy over Geneva Convention breaches: allies in no position to criticise.

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Senator Brian Greig Australian Democrats Spokesperson for Attorney General & Justice 24 March 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/168

Hypocrisy over Geneva Convention Breaches Allies in no position to criticise

The allied forces are in no position to criticise Iraq for not complying with the Geneva Conventions relating to prisoners of war, given their own flagrant breaches of the Conventions since the commencement of hostilities in Iraq.

Australian Democrats’ Attorney General and Justice Spokesperson, Senator Brian Greig, says the Geneva Conventions are intended to protect the safety and dignity of all prisoners of war and must be applied without distinction.

“In the last 24 hours, senior Government figures in the US and Australia have criticised Iraq for not complying with the Geneva Conventions by showing pictures of allied prisoners of war through the media,” Senator Greig said.

“The hypocrisy underlying these claims is startling. The allied forces have not hesitated to allow the media access to Iraqi prisoners of war through all mediums in recent days.

“The Australian community has been consistently confronted with degrading images of Iraqi prisoners of war on our television screens and on the front pages of our newspapers.

“One of the stated reasons for this war is to liberate the Iraqi people and bring to the country the principles of democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law,” Senator Greig said.

“How can we accept the sincerity of these objectives, when our leaders are willing to tolerate breaches of human rights and international law in the process?”

The Iraqi Defence Minister has now given a commitment to treat all prisoners of war in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. The Australian Democrats are calling on the Australian Defence Minister to do likewise.

Note: The relevant Articles of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war are Articles 13 and 14. Article 13 provides that prisoners of war must be treated humanely “without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria”.

Media contact: Senator Greig on 02) 6277 3338 or Di Graham 0417 177 523