U.S. commits to fair detainee treatment

March 8, 2011 at 10:00 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- Washington is calling on U.S. Senate leaders for advice on safeguards that ensure detainees in U.S. custody are treated fairly, the secretary of state said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington was asking for Senate advice on the ratification of international protocols outlining safeguards for detainees.

"We are reaffirming that the United States abides by the rule of law in the conduct of armed conflicts and remains committed to the development and maintenance of humanitarian protections in those conflicts," she said in a statement.

U.S. President Barak Obama signed an executive order Monday that allows detainees at Guantanamo Bay to challenge their detention before a review board. The order marks a contrast to candidate Obama's pledge to close the U.S. naval detention facility within a year of taking office.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the decision to rescind an order suspending the filing of new military commission charges at Guantanamo Bay was a matter of national security.

"For reasons of national security, we must have available to us all the tools that exist for preventing and combating international terrorist activity, and protecting our nation," he said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch said the order contains provisions that allows for the indefinite detention of suspected terrorist without trial, however.

"Is added review an improvement? Yes," said Andrea Prasow, a legal expert at Human Rights Watch, in a statement. "Does it make U.S. detention policies lawful? No."

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