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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 December, 2003, 15:28 GMT
Red Cross in human rights alert
By Imogen Foulkes
BBC, Geneva

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross has called for renewed respect for international humanitarian law.

Jakob Kellenberger told the Red Cross (ICRC) conference in Geneva that anti-terrorism measures had to comply with clear legal rules.

He said the war on terror should not be allowed to erode respect for human dignity.

The ICRC has already criticised the United States for its treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Red Cross flag
There are concerns that the war on terror is eroding human rights

In a clear message to those who wage war, those who occupy and those who have detainees in their keeping, Mr Kellenberger stressed the need for the respect of international humanitarian law at all times.

He said he was convinced it was possible to ensure the security of a State without violating basic humanitarian laws.

He said a territory could be controlled while still respecting its population, and it was possible to detain people without threatening their physical and psychological integrity.

Mr Kellenberger's speech reflects mounting concern within the ICRC that the war on terror is eroding respect for human rights.

The organisation is frustrated that, since its withdrawal from Baghdad following October's bombing, it can no longer fulfil its mandate to ensure that the Geneva Conventions are upheld there.

The Red Cross conference is a chance for the movement to remind the world that humanitarian values need to be respected and that humanitarian organizations need secure space in which to carry out their work.

Red Cross halts West Bank relief
17 Nov 03  |  Middle East
Red Cross cuts Iraq operations
08 Nov 03  |  Middle East
UN reviews Baghdad operations
30 Oct 03  |  Middle East
Red Cross to cut Iraq staff
29 Oct 03  |  Middle East

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