Mr President,

The global fight against terrorism on an unprecedented scale has created new challenges for the protection of human rights. The European Commission constantly underlines that States must ensure full respect for human rights during the fight against terrorism.

A number of Member States have voiced concern to the United States government concerning Guantanamo Bay. The Commission itself does not have any competence to intervene on behalf of the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. However, we follow closely all developments and we have noted President Bush’s recent statement that he would like to bring Guantanamo to an end.

The Commission underlines that all anti-terrorist measures must be consistent with both international humanitarian law and international human rights law. It is our firm belief that the Geneva Conventions apply to all persons captured on the field of battle. The Commission also takes the view that the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture apply to Guantanamo Bay. In this connection, we welcome the United States’ intention to adopt a new Army Field Manual for intelligence interrogation which will ensure that interrogation techniques fully comply with the international prohibition on torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Moreover, in our view, every person who has been detained must enjoy a status under international law and is entitled not to be detained arbitrarily and to receive due process and a fair trial. The Commission would also stress that no-one should be subject to incommunicado detention and that the International Committee of the Red Cross must always be allowed access to detained persons wherever they may be. Finally, we have repeatedly made clear to the United States our opposition to the use of the death penalty in all cases.

The EU has also made clear its support for the request of various United Nations Special Rapporteurs to visit Guantanamo Bay and to be able to interview detainees in private. The EU has raised this issue repeatedly with the United States and will continue to do so.

It is vital that the international community seeks to re-assert full adherence to international law, including human rights and humanitarian standards, in relation to the alleged Taliban and Al-Qaida members in Guantanamo and elsewhere. It is only by ensuring respect for those values by all parties that real progress will be achieved.

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