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ICRC hopes to meet Saddam 'soon'

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it is confident it will soon be able to visit detained former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to check on his treatment in prison.

Last Modified: 22 Jan 2004 06:49 GMT
Saddam was captured near his hometown,Tikrit

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it is confident it will soon be able to visit detained former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to check on his treatment in prison.

Florian Westphal, an ICRC spokesman, told Aljazeera.net on Wednesday the members of the humanitarian organisation hold weekly meetings with occupation authorities to discuss prisoners of war (POW) and detained civilians in Iraq.

The United States earlier this month formally accepted that Saddam, captured last month by US forces, was a prisoner of war.

Since then the Geneva-based organisation has wanted  to meet him. However, Westphal said there was no timeframe for meeting prisoners and it could take weeks to meet some.

"This has been discussed with the coalition, and we are confident this will happen," said Westphal. He declined to comment further on discussions with US authorities.

Conditions, treatment

The ICRC oversees the Third Geneva Convention, an internationally-recognised set of rules which guarantee minimum standards of treatment for prisoners of war and detainees, including the right to visits from aid workers.

The humanitarian body monitors conditions of prisoners held in and how they are treated. Its top priorities include contact with families, he has said, adding he does not believe Saddam's family has tried to reach him through the ICRC.

Under Article 60 of the Convention, as a prisoner of war the ex-head of the Iraqi armed forces would technically be entitled to "a monthly advance of pay", up to 75 Swiss francs ($60 dollars) for "general officers or prisoners of war of equivalent rank".

However, the amount can be changed by the parties in a conflict.

"It would be fair to say that during the visits to prisoners of war and detainees in Iraq this is not one of the things we look at first," Westphal commented in response to reports in the Iraqi press.

Source:
Aljazeera + Agencies
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