After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Bush Administration launched its War on Terror, attempting to prevent future terrorist attacks. Included in this process was the redefining of the phrase "enemy combatant" from being a soldier of an opposing force to really being the terminology we use to describe terrorist actors. The Bush Administration opened the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in 2002 to detain and question enemy combatants, and the detention center is not held to the same human rights standards as traditional POW camps, prisons, etc.

Enemy combatants lack the rights of traditional prisoners of war, and ultimately have almost no rights granted them at Guantanamo Bay-- the primary reason why the center has been under fire since its creation. Do enemy combatants deserve rights once captured and detained? To what degree?

I would argue that because enemy combatants deliberately go against the rules of war, they should not be granted all of the rights that are granted to traditional soldiers. To do so would be to take away a major incentive for states to fight justly and within the realm of the rules of war. However, enemy combatants ought to be treated as people, giving them the right to life, right to freedom from torture, right to express their religion, etc.


Tags: bay, combatants, enemy, ethics&IRcasestudy, guantanamo, terrorism

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So what status would you say that "enemy combatants" should have? If they are not Prisoners of War, I mean? Are they common criminals?

I think they really need this new categorization. Non-state actors are playing a unique role in the globalized world, and we can't squish them into an already existent box. So now, I guess we just need to figure out how we're going to approach this new categorization.

I guess the other question is why they shouldn't be afforded POW protections? Because they aren't fighting on behalf of a recognized nation state?

But it's an interesting idea! Let me know how it goes!

Because they, by definition, go against the rules of war. They distinctively go against these rules of war by killing civilians and waging disproportionate war, taking them out of that realm of "civilized" warfare. Furthermore, to give them all of the rights of normal soldiers would be to take a major incentive for states to act within the rules of war away, which could ultimately lead to even more civilian deaths and even more disproportionate means of war.

I doubt if any enemy combatant ever got the right to freedom from torture as torture is the primary tool to elicit information from soldier/combatant.


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