US continues to deny Red Cross access to all detainees

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Flag of the ICRC

In a statement released on Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that ICRC President Jacob Kellenberger "deplored the fact that the U.S. authorities had not moved closer to granting the ICRC access to persons held in undisclosed locations."

The ICRC started making requests to get access to all U.S. detainees, including the ones held in alleged secret prisons, over two years ago. After Kellenberger met with senior officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, he was again refused access to terrorist suspects held in secret detention centers, chief ICRC spokesperson Antonella Notari said on Friday.

Kellenberger said that "No matter how legitimate the grounds for detention, there exists no right to conceal a person's whereabouts or to deny that he or she is being detained".

In response, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that the ICRC has access to the vast majority of U.S. detainees, but said that "There is a certain subcategory of individuals who have forfeited their protections under the Geneva Conventions and there is not an obligation to allow access to those individuals."

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