HL Deb 01 July 2004 vol 663 cc38-9WA

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Who decides whether a prisoner taken by either the United States, the United Kingdom or other member of the coalition occupying force in Iraq is classified as a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention or sent to Guantanamo Bay; and what criteria are used in coming to a decision. [HL3320]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The decision regarding the status of detainees and internees held in Iraq by UK forces is made following consideration of a number of factors. Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention sets out the criteria by which persons may be detained as prisoners of war. Former senior members of the Saddam Hussein regime or high-ranking members of the Iraqi military under Saddam are treated as prisoners of war under the Third Geneva Convention. Under Article 78 of the Fourth Geneva. Convention, if an occupying power considers it necessary for imperative reasons of security, it ma: intern individuals as security internees. All prisoners o war and all security internees held in Iraq by UK forces are protected under the Third Geneva Convention or Fourth Geneva Convention respectively.

Where UK forces arrest individuals for criminal acts, they are classified as criminal detainees and are handed over to the Iraqi authorities or held on behalf of those authorities in accordance with Iraqi criminal law.

The status of detainees and internees held in Iraq, or elsewhere, by the US is a matter for the US administration.