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Afghanistan/U.S.: Red Cross Rejects Bush Tack On Detainees

Geneva, 8 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it regards captured Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters as prisoners of war, despite U.S. President George W. Bush's decision not to grant them that status. A spokesman for the ICRC in Geneva said a decision on prisoner-of-war status is a legal matter, and not a political decision.

Bush yesterday determined that the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war would apply to Taliban, but not to Al-Qaeda fighters. But U.S. officials said even the Taliban fighters will not be granted prisoner-of-war status, which would notably grant them the right to refuse to give more than name, rank, and serial number when interrogated.

Under the Geneva Conventions, any dispute over the status of a prisoner must by settled by a tribunal and not the government of one of the sides to the conflict.

The ICRC is the guarantor of the Geneva Conventions.