US Claims: Cameras ( Not Bombs ) Break International Law

While the United States accuses the Iraqi government of contravening the Geneva Convention by parading American POWs in the media, US-led forces have begun targeting Baghdad television in breach of international law. Raids on Baghdad television stations began at dawn on March 26. Pentagon sources were quoted as stating that the missile attack was launched “to counter command and control abilities of the Iraqi regime, and also to deal with propaganda and the disinformation campaign of Baghdad.”

2003.04.01

While the United States accuses the Iraqi government of contravening the Geneva Convention by parading American POWs in the media, US-led forces have begun targeting Baghdad television in breach of international law.

On Sunday, 2003.03.23, Iraqi forces captured five American soldiers during an ambush on a six-vehicle supply convoy. Iraqi television then transmitted footage of the POWs, which was picked up by Arab television and big networks such as CNN and Sky News. A major outcry by some Western leaders led US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to issue a warning to all broadcasters that showing prisoners of war on television is contrary to the Geneva Convention.

But it appears that the US only recognizes international law as and when it sees fit.

The BBC reports that US-led raids on Baghdad television stations began at dawn on March 26. Pentagon sources were quoted as stating that the missile attack was launched “to counter command and control abilities of the Iraqi regime, and also to deal with propaganda and the disinformation campaign of Baghdad.”¹

This mirrors comments made by a Nato spokesperson defending the bombing of a Serbian television station in April 1999, which killed 16 civilians. According to Nato, the station was broadcasting “propaganda…to create a climate of hatred in which the persecution of Albanians could be accepted as normal by the greater majority of the Serb population.”²

At the time, the spokesperson was reacting to a 60-page report published by Amnesty International in which it accused Nato forces of breaching the first protocol of the Geneva Convention when it bombed the station. According to Amnesty International the attack contravened rules governing the protection of civilians and was a “grave breach of the laws of war.”³

Article 13 of the convention states “prisoners of war must at all times be protected…against insults and public curiosity.”


¹Dawn raids target Baghdad, BBC Online, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2887057.stm, Wednesday, 26 March, 2003
²Amnesty accuses Nato of war crimes, Guardian Unlimited, http://www.guardian.co.uk/Kosovo/Story/0,2763,329232,00.html, Wednesday June 7, 2000
³ibid

Author: David Ledden

News Service: theExperiment

URL: http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1917