WASHINGTON—Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which the Pentagon embraced Tuesday as official policy after years of refusing to be bound by it in the war on terrorism, is the basic international legal standard for the treatment of prisoners of war.
The United States agreed to honor the Geneva Conventions as binding law in 1955. Common Article 3 says prisoners of war "shall in all cases be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria." The article specifically prohibits:
"(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
``(b) taking of hostages;
``(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
``(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions" without legal protections.''
(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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