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Prisoners of War

by on February 27, 2014

It’s no surprise that instant media has changed the way journalists do their work today.  Although we are supposed to adapt to these changes and put these new tools to good use, there are still journalistic rules that countries abide by that aren’t up to date and can ultimately hinder prisoners of war.  Should these old and outdated regulations be modified in a highly updated society?

Take for example the Geneva Conventions. Created in 1949, the primary interest of this document of warfare is humanitarian treatment.  These laws established protection for the wounded and civilians in and around a war zone and its main concern is about people in war.  Overall, its main priority is to protect people from harm and intimidation.

However, on March 23, 2003, the news station Al Jazeera was given a video from the Iraqi government of American soldiers who were prisoners of war, and this video was far from heartening.  According to Wide Angle’s The Geneva Conventions: The Geneva Conventions: The Controversial Footage, “The footage showed dead American soldiers, easily identifiable by their faces, and American P.O.W.s. The P.O.W.s, visibly exhausted and somewhat confused, were interviewed by an unseen speaker, presumably from the Iraqi government or Iraqi state television.”  The video also exemplified dead bodies in horrifying conditions.  After that video with clear violations of the Geneva Convention was released, Al Jazeera then decided to circulate that video as well.  Who is to blame for the violations of the Geneva Convention, and should Al Jazeera be held accountable for exposing this sickening clip?

In my opinion as a journalist, ill treatment and disrespect for injured soldiers should not be tolerated and should continue to be held accountable by the current Geneva Convention no matter what new media is adapted.  In terms of the footage shown of the prisoners of war, the Al Jazeera network is a huge accomplice in breaking humane treatment to captured soldiers and the Geneva Convention should be updated. In addition to that, Al Jezeera is particularly responsible for their actions as a publication no matter how society receives information via media or how technology and media change over time.

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