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International Journalism Committee Chair

Ricardo Sandoval
Assistant City Editor
Sacramento Bee
Bio (click to expand) picture Ricardo Sandoval is Assistant City Editor at the Sacramento Bee newspaper. He supervises the paper’s environment, science and regional development teams of reporters. Before joining The Bee, Sandoval was a foreign correspondent, based in Mexico City, for the Dallas Morning News and Knight Ridder Newspapers. Sandoval was born in Mexico and raised in San Diego, California. He graduated with a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in Northern California. His career has spanned three decades and has included award-winning coverage of California agriculture, immigration, the savings and loan scandal and the deregulation of public utility companies. His list of awards includes the Overseas Press Club, the InterAmerican Press Club, the Gerald Loeb prize for business journalism and two honors from the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Sandoval co-authored — with his wife, journalist Susan Ferriss — the biography “The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Movement” published in 1997 by Harcourt.

Ronnie Lovler, vice chair
E-mail
Bio (click to expand) picture Ronnie Lovler is associate director of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University. She is also senior writer for the nonprofit Newsdesk.org, and its public-interest news service, “News You Might Have Missed”. In addition to serving as international committee chair, Ronnie is a member of the executive board of the northern California chapter of SPJ. Ronnie taught journalism at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida before moving to San Francisco.

Ronnie’s journalism career spans several decades. She served as bureau chief and correspondent for CNN in Latin America for almost 10 years. During her time at CNN, she reported from every country in Latin America. She also worked for CBS News, The Weather Channel and The Associated Press, as well as The San Juan Star in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She was part of a team of observers headed by President Jimmy Carter monitoring electoral processes in Nicaragua (2001) and Venezuela (2004). During the 2005 U.S. hurricane season, Ms. Lovler worked with the American Red Cross as a volunteer crisis communicator and public information officer. She received her undergraduate degree from Ohio State University and her graduate degree in communications at the University of Florida.


Home > International Journalism > Reference Guide to the Geneva Conventions > Alphabetical Index

Reference Guide to the Geneva Conventions
Alphabetical Index


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Geneva Conventions:
A Reference Guide

Welcome
About the Guide
Alphabetical Index
Introduction
History
Conventions Texts
     I | II | III | IV | PI | PII

Author's Note
Resources/Links
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Image of original document of the first Geneva Convention from 1864 courtesy Kevin Quinn, Ohio, US; licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution license

access to grave sites

As soon as circumstances permit, the parties in whose territories graves are situated shall conclude agreements to facilitate by relatives of the deceased and by representatives of official graves registration services. (Protocol I, Art. 34, Sec. 2)

In the case of prisoners of war, burial and cremation records, as well as the ashes, must be kept by the detaining power until it's possible to hand them over to the home country. (Convention III, Art. 120)

access to internment camps

Representatives or delegates of the protecting powers shall have permission to go to all places where interned civilians are, particularly to places of internment, detention and work. They shall have access to all premises occupied by protected persons and shall be able to interview the latter without witnesses, personally or through an interpreter. ( Convention IV, Art. 143)

access to prisoners of war

Captured medical personnel or members of the Red Cross or other aid organizations must be allowed to periodically visit prisoners of war in labor units or hospitals outside the camp. ( Convention I, Art. 28a )

Representatives of the protecting powers shall have permission to visit all places where prisoners of war may be, particularly to places of internment, imprisonment and labor. They must be able to interview the prisoners without witnesses, either personally or through an interpreter. ( Convention III, Art. 126)

accidents

Prisoners of war who are accidentally injured in connection with work shall receive all the care that they need. ( Convention III, Art. 54)

Furthermore, unless the injuries were self-inflicted, seriously injured prisoners must be sent back to their own countries once they are well enough to travel. ( Convention III, Art. 109 and Art. 114)

Internees who are accidentally injured at work must receive the same compensation as national workers. ( Convention IV, Art. 40 and Art. 95)

The same applies to civilians in occupied territories. ( Convention IV, Art. 51)

accounts

See prisoners of war, money and internees, money .

act of war

See aggression.

aggression

According to the Charter of the United Nations, every state has the duty to refrain from the threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence of any state. ( Protocol I, Preamble )

The Geneva Conventions must not be construed as legitimizing or authorizing any act of aggression or any other use of force inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations. ( Protocol I, Preamble)

agricultural areas

Attacks against crops, livestock and agricultural areas needed for food production for the civilian population are prohibited. ( Protocol I, Art. 54 , Sec. 2)

aiding and abetting escapes

Prisoners of war who aid and abet escapes or escape attempts shall be liable only for disciplinary punishment . ( Convention III, Art. 93)

air raid shelters

Prisoners of war must have immediate access to shelters against air raids and any other hazards — no less than the local civilian population. ( Convention III, Art. 22 )

The above also applies to civilian internees. ( Convention IV, Art. 88)

ambulances

See medical transports .

amnesty

No party to the Geneva Conventions can absolve itself, or another party, of liability for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. ( Convention I, Art. 51; Convention II, Art. 52; Convention III, Art. 131; Convention IV, Art. 148)

apartheid

Practices of apartheid and other inhuman and degrading practices involving outrages upon personal dignity, based on racial discrimination are prohibited and are considered grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. ( Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 4)

area bombardments

Area bombardments occur when a number of clearly separated military objectives are treated as a single military objective, and where there is a similar concentration of civilians or civilian objects. ( Protocol I, Art. 51 , Sec. 5a)

Area bombardments and other indiscriminate attacks are forbidden. ( Protocol I, Art. 57, Sec. 2b)

An indiscriminate attack affecting the civilian population or civilian objects and resulting in excessive loss of life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. ( Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 3)

See also indiscriminate attacks.

armistice

Whenever circumstances permit, an armistice or cease-fire shall be arranged to permit the removal, exchange and transport of the wounded left on the battlefield. ( Convention I, Art. 15 )

Pretending to seek a cease-fire with the intent to betray the confidence in order to kill, injure or capture an adversary is perfidy and is prohibited. ( Protocol I, Art. 37, Sec. 1a)

armlet, with Red Cross symbol

Medical personnel will wear a red cross on a while background emblem on their armlets. Alternative symbols include the red crescent and the red lion and sun. ( Convention I, Art. 39 )

ashes

Cremation can take place only for imperative reasons of hygiene or if required by the religion of the deceased. Ashes must be kept until proper disposal is possible. ( Convention I, Art. 17 )

These guidelines also apply to dead prisoners of war ( Convention III, Art. 120) and internees. ( Convention IV, Art. 130)

attorneys

Prisoners of war must have the right to legal advice, particularly in the case of preparing powers of attorney and wills. ( Convention III, Art. 77)

The same applies to civilian internees. ( Convention IV, Art. 113 )

Military commanders must have access to legal advisers to instruct them on the application of the Geneva Conventions. ( Protocol I, Art. 82)


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baths

Prisoners of war must have access to baths and showers, as well as sufficient soap and water for personal toilets and for laundry. Women prisoners must have separate facilities. ( Convention III, Art. 29)

The above also applies to internees. ( Convention IV, Art. 85 )

belligerent

Also known as a party to a conflict.

biological experiments

Biological experiments on the wounded and sick are prohibited (Convention I, Art. 12) and are considered grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. (Convention I, Art. 50)

Biological experiments against shipwrecked combatants are prohibited (Convention II, Art. 12) and are considered grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. (Convention II, Art. 51)

Biological experiments against prisoners of war are prohibited and are considered grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. (Convention III, Art. 130)

Biological experiments against civilians are prohibited and are considered grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. (Convention IV, Art. 147)

biological warfare

Prohibited under the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare.

blind prisoners of war

Blind prisoners are singled out in the Geneva Convention as deserving of special facilities. The detaining power must provide needed treatment and equipment, including glasses. (Convention III, Art. 30)

blockade

Relief consignments, equipment and personnel must be able to pass rapidly and freely if the assistance is meant for the civilian population of the opposing side. This includes medicines, religious items, food and clothing. (Convention IV, Art. 23; Protocol I, Art. 70, Sec. 2)

An exception may be made if there is fear that the shipments would be diverted to help the military. (Convention IV, Art. 23)

Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited. (Protocol I, Art. 54, Sec. 1)

blood donations

Although protected persons may not be subject to medical experiments or forced to donate organs, they may be asked to donate blood or give skin for grafting. These donations must be entirely voluntary, without coercion or inducement, and take place under medical conditions that are generally accepted as adequate and only for therapeutic purposes. (Protocol I, Art. 11, Sec. 3)

burial

Burial of the dead must be carried out individually if possible and must be preceded by a careful examination in order to confirm death and establish identity. The burials should be honorable and, if possible, according to the rites of the religion to which the deceased belonged. Graves must be properly maintained, with adequate record keeping, so that they may be found later. (Convention I, Art. 17)

The above guidelines also apply to dead prisoners of war (Convention III, Art. 120) and dead internees. (Convention IV, 130)


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canteens

All prisoner of war camps must have canteens where prisoners can get food, soap, tobacco and other everyday items. Prices may not be higher than in the surrounding area. Any profits must be set aside for the benefit of the prisoners. (Convention III, Art. 28)

Similarly, internees must have access to canteens, unless equivalent facilities are already available. Profits must be set aside for the benefit of the internees. (Convention IV, Art. 87)

carpet bombing

Area bombardments and other indiscriminate attacks are forbidden. If it becomes apparent that an objective is not a military one, or if an attack is expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects then the attack must be canceled or suspended. (Protocol I, Art. 57, Sec. 2b)

An indiscriminate attack affecting the civilian population or civilian objects and resulting in excessive loss of life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 3)

cash

The detailing power may set a limit to the amount of cash a prisoner of war may have in his or her possession. The rest may be collected and put into an individual account. (Convention III, Art. 58 and Art. 59)

Similar guidelines apply to internees. (Convention IV, Art. 97 and Art. 98)

cease-fire

Whenever circumstances permit, an armistice or cease-fire shall be arranged to permit the removal, exchange and transport of the wounded left on the battlefield. (Convention I, Art. 15)

censorship

Letters written by prisoners may be censored but a detaining power cannot use the excuse of not having enough translators to limit the number of letters that prisoners are allowed, unless the protecting power agrees. (Convention III, Art. 71)

The censoring must take place as quickly as possible by the dispatching state and the receiving state, and only once by each. The examination of packages must take place in the presence of a prisoner or a prisoner's chosen representative. Any prohibition of correspondence must be temporary and as short as possible. (Convention III, Art. 76)

Similar guidelines apply to internees' mail. (Convention IV, Art. 112)

Letters written by captured chaplains may be censored. (Convention III, Art. 35)

chaplains

Chaplains are considered protected persons under Convention I. They may not renounce their rights (Convention I, Art. 7) and their rights may not be negotiated away (Convention I, Art. 6).

Chaplains who are captured may not be considered prisoners of war, and may be detained only if they are needed by the other prisoners. (Convention I, Art. 28 and Convention III, Art. 33)

In addition to the being allowed to send the same number of letters as the prisoners of war, chaplains may also write additional letters with ecclesiastical authorities and international religious organizations. The letters may be censored. (Convention III, Art. 35)

Chaplains are not combatants and have no right to participate directly in hostilities. (Protocol I, Art. 43, Sec. 2)

Prisoners of war who are ministers of religion, even if they haven't officiated as chaplains in their own forces, must be free to minister to members of their own religion and receive the same treatment as those recognized as chaplains. They can't be required to do any other work. (Convention III, Art. 36)

chemical weapons

Prohibited under the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare.

children

Parties to a conflict must respect children, provide them with any care or aid they require, and protect them from any form of indecent assault (Protocol I, Art. 77, Sec. 1).

Children under 15 must not participate in hostilities and must not be recruited into the armed forces. (Protocol I, Art. 77, Sec. 2; Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 3C)

Those children who do participate in hostilities do not lose their protections under the Geneva Conventions, including the right to an education. (Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 3d)

Children who have committed an offense related to the armed conflict before their 18th birthday cannot be subject to the death penalty. (Protocol I, Art. 77, Sec. 5)

If arrested, detained or interned, children must be held in separate quarters from adults, unless they are with their families. (Protocol I, Art. 77, Sec. 4)

Warring parties must try to make local agreements to allow the removal of children from besieged or encircled areas. (Convention IV, Art. 17)

Warring parties must allow the free passage of medicine, food and clothing intended for children under 15. (Convention IV, Art. 23)

Warring parties must ensure that orphans or lost children are not left alone, and that they are taken care of and allowed to practice their religion and pursue their education in their cultural tradition if possible. (Convention IV, Art. 24)

Mothers with dependent infants should not be, if at all possible, sentenced to the death penalty for an offense related to the armed conflict, and such sentences must not be carried out. (Protocol I, Art. 76, Sec. 3)

child soldiers

Children under 15 must not participate in hostilities and must not be recruited into the armed forces. (Protocol I, Art. 77, Sec. 2; Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 3c)

churches

See places of worship.

cigarettes

Prisoners of war must be allowed to use tobacco. (Convention III, Art. 26)

Tobacco must be available to prisoners of war at canteens. (Convention III, Art. 28)

Similarly, tobacco must be available to internees. (Convention IV, Art. 87)

civil defense

Civil defense in occupied territories is covered in Protocol I, Sections 61 through 67.

Civil defense refers to humanitarian tasks intended to protect the civilian population. These include warning, evacuation, shelter management, blackouts management, rescue, medical services including first aid and religious assistance, firefighting, detecting and marking danger areas, provision of emergency shelters and supplies, emergency policing, emergency utility repair, and emergency disposal of the dead — as well as other related tasks. (Protocol I, Art. 61, Sec. 1)

An occupying power may not change the structure of these organizations in any way that interferes with their functioning, or compel its personnel to carry out other tasks. (Protocol I, Art. 63, Sec. 1 and Sec. 2)

Civil defense personnel may be disarmed for security reasons. (Protocol I, Art. 63, Sec. 3)

The international civil defense symbol is a blue triangle on an orange background. (Protocol I, Art. 66, Sec. 4)

civil patrols

Members of civil defense organizations may bear light individual weapons in order to maintain order or for self-defense. (Protocol I, Art. 65, Sec. 3)

Civil defense personnel must be clearly identified with distinctive symbols and identity cards. (Protocol I, Art. 66)

civil wars

Protocol II extends the protection of the Geneva Conventions to non-international conflicts.

civilian immunity

Civilians have special protections under Convention IV, Protocol I, and Protocol II.

They must be treated humanely, without discrimination based on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or other similar criteria.

Violence to life and person including murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture are prohibited.

The taking of hostages is prohibited.

Outrages upon personal dignity, including humiliating and degrading treatment are prohibited.

Sentences and executions without a judgment from a regularly constituted court and without benefit of the standard judicial guarantees are prohibited. (Convention IV, Art. 3)

See civilian population, women, murder, rape, torture, discrimination, civilian property, places of worship, cultural objects, grave breaches, and indiscriminate bombing to start with.

civilian objects

Combatants must distinguish between civilian and military objects and attack only military targets. (Protocol I, Art. 48)

See places of worship, indiscriminate attacks.

civilian

A civilian is any person who does not belong to any of the following categories: members of the armed forces, militias or volunteer corps, organized resistance movements, and residents of an occupied territory who spontaneously take up arms. If there is any doubt whether a person is civilian, then he or she is to be considered a civilian. (Protocol I, Art. 50, Sec. 1)

civilian population

The civilian population comprises all persons who are civilians. (Protocol I, Art. 50, Sec. 2)

The civilian population is protected under the Geneva Conventions and these protections are not affected by the presence of combatants in the population. (Protocol I, Art. 50, Sec. 3)

These protections include the right to be free from attacks, reprisals, acts meant to instill terror, and indiscriminate attacks. Civilian populations must not be used as civilian shields. (Protocol I, Art. 51)

civilian property

Combatants must distinguish between civilian and military property and attack only military property. (Protocol I, Art. 48)

See places of worship, indiscriminate bombing.

civilian shields

Civilians must not be used to protect military installations or operations against attacks. (Protocol I, Art. 51, Sec. 7)

civilian status

Feigning of civilian or non-combatant status is perfidy and prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. (Protocol I. Art. 37, Sec. 1)

civilians, imprisonment of

Civilians who commit an offense against an occupying power which does not include an attempt against the lives of members of the occupying force or administration, pose a grave collective danger, or seriously damage property or installations of the occupying power may only be punished by internment or imprisonment. (Convention IV, Art. 68)

If civilians in an occupied territory are charged with an offense that carries a punishment of to two or more years of imprisonment, their protecting power must be notified immediately. If the notification is not received at least three weeks before the first hearing, the trial shall not proceed. (Convention IV, Art. 71)

clothing for civilians

See blockades.

clothing for internees

If an internee doesn't have adequate and sufficient clothing, the detaining power must provide it. The clothing must not expose them to ridicule. Protective clothing must be provided at worksites that require it. (Convention IV, Art. 90)

If internees are transferred, they must have adequate clothing. (Convention IV, Art. 127)

clothing for prisoners of war

Prisoners must be supplied with clothing, underwear and footwear that is both sufficient and suitable for the climate. (Convention III, Art. 27)

Prisoners of war must not be forced to give up their own clothing, even if it is military issue. (Convention III, Art. 18)

Prisoners who are being evacuated must have adequate clothing. (Convention III, Art. 20)

If a prisoner of war is found wearing civilian clothing, he or she may only be subject to disciplinary punishment. (Convention III, Art. 93)

coercion

Prisoners of war may not be tortured mentally or physically, and no other form of coercion may be used during interrogation. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer must not be punished in any way. (Convention III, Art. 17)

Prisoners of war may not be tortured or coerced into admitting guilt during a judicial proceeding. (Convention III, Art. 99)

Civilians must not be tortured or coerced, particularly to obtain information from them or third parties. (Convention IV, art. 31)

Civilians must not be coerced to donate blood or skin grafts. (Protocol I, Art. 11, Sec. 3)

Public officials or judges in occupying territories may not be coerced into continuing to work if they abstain for reasons of conscience. (Convention IV, Art. 54)

See torture, interrogation.

collateral damage

Weapons, projectiles and methods of warfare that cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering are prohibited. (Protocol I, Art. 35, Sec. 2)

See carpet bombing, civilian population, civilian property, environment.

collective penalties

Civilians must not be punished for offenses that they personally did not commit. Collective penalties, intimidation and penalties against civilian populations are prohibited. (Convention IV, Art. 33)

combatant status

Combatants have protections under the Geneva Conventions, as well as obligations.

Convention I offers protections to wounded combatants, who are defined as members of the armed forces of a party to an international conflict, members of militias or volunteer corps including members of organized resistance movements as long as they have a well-defined chain of command, are clearly distinguishable from the civilian population, carry their arms openly, and obey the laws of war. (Convention I, Art. 13, Sec. 1 and Sec. 2)

See wounded combatants for a list of protections.

Convention II extends these same protections to those who have been shipwrecked (Convention II, Art. 13)

Convention III offers a wide range of protections to combatants who have become prisoners of war. (Convention III, Art. 4)

For example, captured combatants cannot be punished for acts of war except in the cases where the enemy's own soldiers would also be punished, and to the same extent. (Convention III, Art. 87)

See prisoner of war for a list of additional protections.

However, other individuals, including civilians, who commit hostile acts and are captured do not have these protections. For example, civilians in an occupied territory are subject to the existing penal laws. (Convention IV, Art. 64)

The 1977 Protocols extend the definition of combatant to include any fighters who carry arms openly during preparation for an attack and during the attack itself, (Protocol I, Art. 44, Sec. 3) but these Protocols aren't as widely accepted as the four 1949 conventions.

In addition to rights, combatants also have obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

In the case of an internal conflict, combatants must show humane treatment to civilians and enemies who have been wounded or who have surrendered. Murder, hostage-taking and extrajudicial executions are all forbidden. (Convention I, Art. 3)

For more protections afforded the civilian population, see civilian immunity.

Although all combatants are required to comply with international laws, violations do not deprive the combatants of their status, or of their right to prisoner of war protections if they are captured. (Protocol I, Art. 44, Sec. 2)

A mercenary does not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war. (Protocol I, Art. 37)

command responsibility

A superior who has information to the effect that a subordinate was committing or was going to commit a breach of the Geneva Conventions must take all feasible measures to prevent or repress the breach. If the superior fails to act, he or she can face penal discipline. (Protocol I, Art. 86, Sec. 2)

compelling military service

No prisoner of war may be compelled to serve in the military forces of the hostile power. (Convention III, Art. 130) Violations are grave breaches of the Geneva Convention. (Convention III, Art. 130)

Civilians in an occupied territory may not be compelled to serve in the military forces of the hostile power. (Convention IV, Art. 51) Violations are grave breaches of the Geneva Convention. (Convention IV, Art. 147)

concentration camps

Concentration camps, though not mentioned explicitly in the Geneva Conventions, violate a number of provisions, including those concerning unlawful confinement and due process.

See also food, shelter, medical care, murder, torture, collective punishment, and children.

See also ethnic cleansing and civilian populations.

confinement

Prisoners of war may be confined as a disciplinary punishment, except where it would be inhuman, brutal, or dangerous to their health. (Convention III, Art. 88)

Prisoners of war may not be held in close confinement except for reasons of health, and then only as long as medically necessary. (Convention III, Art. 21)

A prisoner may be confined for no more than 30 days at a time, with a minimum of three days before any additional punishment. (Convention III, Art. 90)

No prisoner shall spend more than 14 days in confinement waiting the resolution of a disciplinary offense. (Convention III, Art. 95)

Women prisoners shall be confined separately and under the supervision of women. (Convention III, Art. 97)

Internees may also be confined as a disciplinary punishment, with similar limitations as for prisoners of war. (Convention IV, Art. 117, Art. 124 and Art. 125)

Unlawful confinement of civilians is a grave breach of the Geneva Convention. (Protocol IV, Art. 147)

contagious diseases

Prisoners of war must have medical inspections at least once a month to check for contagious diseases, especially tuberculosis, malaria and venereal disease. The most efficient methods available must be employed. (Convention III, Art. 31)

Similarly, monthly medical inspections are required in internment camps to check for the same diseases. (Protocol IV, Art. 92)

Occupying powers have the obligation to use preventative measures to control contagious diseases and epidemics. (Convention IV, Art. 55)

contracting parties

Governments that have signed the Geneva Conventions.

correspondents

See journalists.

cremation

Cremation can take place only for imperative reasons of hygiene or if required by the religion of the deceased. Ashes must be kept until proper disposal is possible. (Convention I, Art. 17)

These guidelines apply to dead combatants, as well as to dead prisoners of war (Convention III, Art. 120) and internees. (Convention IV, Art. 130)

crew members

Wounded and ill crew members, including masters, pilots and apprentices, must receive all the protections accorded to wounded combatants. (Convention I, Art. 13 and Convention II, Art. 13)

Crew members who are taken prisoner must receive the same protection as combatants who have been taken prisoner. (Convention III, Art. 4)

crimes against humanity

War crimes are againt the customary laws of war which are applicable in any conflict, regardless of whether the country in question is a signatory to the Geneva Convention. They include the rights listed in the common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions (Convention I, Article 3) and the basics of human rights law – freedom from torture, mutilation and rape, slavery, and willful killing. Customary law also forbids genocide, crimes against humanity, as well as war crimes.

See grave breaches.

crops

See agricultural areas.

cultural objects

Hostile acts and reprisals against historic monuments, works of art and places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples are prohibited. Such objects must not be used in support of the military effort. (Protocol I, Art. 53 and Protocol II, Art. 16)

If such objects are attacked when they're not located near a military target or used for the war effort, then the attack is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 4d)

These objects are also protected by the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

See civilian property and houses of worship.

customary law

Laws of war which are applicable in any conflict, regardless of whether the country in question is a signatory to the Geneva Convention. They include the rights listed in the common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions (Convention I, Article 3) and the basics of human rights law – freedom from torture, mutilation and rape, slavery, and willful killing. Customary law also forbids genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.


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dams

See dangerous installations.

danger zones

Prisoners of war may not be kept in dangerous zones unless evacuation would pose an even greater risk to their health. (Convention III, Art. 19)

Civilians must be allowed to leave conflict areas, unless their departures are against state interests. (Convention IV, Art. 35)

Aliens must to be allowed to leave danger zones to the same extent as nationals. (Convention IV, Art. 38, Sec. 4)

dangerous installations

Dams, dikes, nuclear power plants and other dangerous installations or nearby targets must not be attacked, even if they are military objectives, if an attack may cause the release of dangerous forces and cause severe losses among the civilian population. (Protocol I, Art. 56, Sec. 1)

If a dangerous installation is used for other than its normal function and in regular, significant and direct support of the military effort then it loses its special protections. (Protocol I, Art. 56, Sec. 2) However, if it is attacked, the surrounding civilian population is still entitled to precautionary measures. (Protocol I, Art. 56, Sec. 3)

to be — marked with three bright orange circles. (Protocol I, Art. 56, Sec. 7)

dead prisoners of war

Burial of the dead must be carried out individually if possible and must be preceded by a careful examination in order to confirm death and establish identity. The burials should be honorable and, if possible, according to the rites of the religion to which the deceased belonged. Graves must be properly maintained, with adequate record keeping, so that they may be found later. (Convention III, Art. 120)

Cremation can take place only for imperative reasons of hygiene or if required by the religion of the deceased. Ashes must be kept until proper disposal is possible. (Convention III, Art. 120)

death certificates

Death certificates, or certified lists, must include particulars of identity, date and place of death, cause of death, date and place of burial, and all information needed to find the graves, both for prisoners of war (Convention III, Art. 120) and for internees. (Convention IV, Art. 129)

The records must be forwarded, by the most immediate means, to the powers concerned. (Convention III, Art. 122 and Convention IV, Art. 130)

death sentences

Prisoners of war and the protecting powers must be informed as soon as possible about which offenses are punishable by death. Other offenses may not be added to the list later without the agreement of the protecting power. (Convention III, Art. 100)

An occupying power may sentence civilians to death only if they are guilty of spying, serious acts of sabotage, or if they murdered one or more people — but only if these offenses were punishable by death by local laws before the occupation began. (Convention IV, Art. 68)

If civilians in an occupied territory are charged with an offense that is punishable by death, their protecting power must be notified immediately. If the notification is not received at least three weeks before the first hearing, the trial shall not proceed. (Convention IV, Art. 71)

See also fair trials.

death squads

Murder of civilians is prohibited, as is sentencing and executions without benefit of a regularly constituted court affording all guarantees recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. (Convention I, Art. 3, Sec. 1)

declaration of war

A declaration of war is not required in order for the Geneva Conventions to apply.

demilitarized zones

Areas from which all mobile weapons and military equipment have been evacuated and in which all military activity has ceased. (Protocol I, Art. 60, Sec. 3)

Violating agreed-upon demilitarized zones is prohibited. (Protocol I, Art. 60, Sec. 1)

dental treatment

Unnecessarily dental treatment of prisoners of war is prohibited. (Convention III, Art. 13)

deportation

Individual or mass deportations from an occupied territory are prohibited regardless of motive. If evacuation is required, civilians may be moved within an occupied territory or outside if absolutely necessary, but must then be returned home as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased. (Convention IV, Art. 47)

Civilians in an occupied territory must not be transferred to a country where they have reason to fear persecution based on their political or religious beliefs. (Convention IV, Art. 45)

detaining power

The party to a conflict which is holding people in prisoner of war or internment camps.

dikes

See dangerous installations.

disabled prisoners of war

Disabled prisoners must receive special care and rehabilitation until they are repatriated. (Convention III, Art. 30)

See wounded prisoners of war.

disappearances

The Geneva Conventions do not specifically address the issue of disappearances, but such actions do violate a number of provisions.

Foremost are the protections due to the civilian population, including the right to be free of murder, torture, and the right to a fair trial.

disciplinary punishment

Disciplinary punishment of prisoners is limited to monetary fines totaling not more than 15 days of pay, loss of special privileges, fatigue duty of two or less hours a day, or confinement. (Convention III, Art. 88)

discrimination

Civilians and combatants who are hors de combat shall be treated without any adverse distinction based on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. (Convention I, Art. 3)

dormitories

Prisoners of war must be housed under the same conditions as the local forces of the detaining power. The premises must be dry, adequately heated and lighted, and secured against fire. Women must have separate dormitories from men. (Convention III, Art. 25)

If women who are not members of a family unit are interned in the same place as men, then they must have separate sleeping quarters and sanitary conveniences. (Convention IV, Art. 85)

drinking water

Prisoners of war must have access to sufficient drinking water. (Convention III, Art. 26)

Prisoners of war who are being evacuated must be provided with sufficient drinking water. (Convention III, Art. 20 and Art. 46)

Internees must also be provided with sufficient drinking water in internment camps (Convention IV, Art. 89) and during transfers. (Convention IV, Art. 127)

Attacks against civilian drinking water installation and irrigation works are prohibited. (Protocol I, Art. 54, Sec. 2)

due process

The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions are forbidden unless all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people have been met and a regularly constituted court has pronounced a judgment. (Convention I, Art. 3, Sec 1d)


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education

While respecting the individual preferences of each prisoner, detaining powers must encourage educational pursuits and provide adequate facilities. (Convention III, Art. 38)

Prisoners must be allowed to receive educational materials, including books, scientific equipment, exams, musical instruments, and other materials that allow them to study. (Convention III, Art. 72)

The above also applies to internees. (Convention IV, Art. 94 and Art. 108)

Warring parties must see to the education of orphans or other children under 15 who have been separated from their parents. The education must be entrusted, when possible, to people of a similar cultural tradition. (Convention IV, Art. 24)

An occupying power must support existing school systems and make new arrangements, if necessary, for the education of orphans and children who have been separated from their parents . (Convention IV, Art. 50)

embargoes

See blockades.

emblem, Red Cross

The symbol of the red cross on a white background is reserved for the use of medical services. (Convention I, Art. 38)

The misuse of this emblem is prohibited. (Convention I, Art. 53; Protocol I, Art. 38)

enemy aliens

Aliens in the territory of a party to a conflict have the right to individual or collective relief, medical attention, and the freedom to practice their religions. In addition, they must be allowed to leave danger zones to the same extent as nations. (Convention IV, Art. 38)

Refugees who do not have the protection of any government must not be considered to be enemy aliens simply because of their nationality. (Convention IV, Art. 44)

If state security makes it absolutely necessary, aliens may be placed in assigned residences or interred. (Convention IV, Art. 42)

More severe measures of control are prohibited. (Convention IV, Art. 41)

Internees have a number of protections under Convention I, Section IV. See internment.

enemy, surrender of

It is forbidden to kill or injure an enemy who surrenders who is hors de combat.

It is forbidden to pretend to surrender, without an actual intention to do so. See perfidy. (Protocol I, Art. 37, Sec. 1)

enforcement of Geneva Conventions

Each Geneva Convention and Protocol spells out enforcement procedures.

To start with, each party to the Conventions must seek out violators and bring them to trial. (Convention I, Art. 49)

In addition, parties may request an independent inquiry and umpire to resolve disputes between parties. (Convention I, Art. 52)

This inquiry may take the form of an international fact-finding commission, as outlined in Protocol I, Art. 90.

enlistment

Occupying powers must not use pressure, coercion or propaganda to recruit civilians into the armed forces. (Convention IV, Art. 51)

enslavement

Slavery and all forms of the slave trade are forbidden at all times and in all places. (Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 2f)

entrapment

See perfidy.

environmental warfare

Methods or means of warfare that are intended or may be expected to case widespread, long-term and severe damage to the environment are prohibited. (Protocol I, Art. 35, Sec. 3)

epidemics

Occupying powers have the obligation to use preventative measures to control contagious diseases and epidemics. (Convention IV, Art. 55)

escape attempts

A prisoner who escapes and is recaptured can only be liable to a disciplinary punishment, even if it is a repeated offense. (Convention III, Art. 92)

escapes, aiding and abetting

See aiding and abetting escapes.

ethnic cleansing

Mass forcible transfers of civilians in an occupied territory are prohibited, though the occupying power may evacuate people for safety reasons. Those evacuated must be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities have ceased. (Convention IV, Art. 49).

See deportation, transfer of civilians.

evacuation of civilians

See transfer of civilians, danger zones.

evacuation of prisoners of war

See transfer of prisoners of war , danger zones.

extrajudicial executions

See murder.

exercise

While respecting the individual preferences of each prisoner, detaining powers must encourage exercise by providing adequate facilities. (Convention III, Art. 38)


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fair trial

The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions are forbidden unless all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people have been met and a regularly constituted court has pronounced a judgment. (Convention I, Art. 3, Sec 1d)

Depriving combatants, prisoners of war, refugees, or medical or religious personnel of a fair trail is a grave breach of the Geneva Convention. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 4e)

false pretenses

See perfidy.

families, reunions of

Each party to the conflict must assist family members who are trying to find one another, and must support organizations that reunited families, providing that those organizations conform to security regulations. (Convention IV, Art. 26; Protocol I, Art. 74)

Parties to internal conflicts are also responsible for facilitating family reunions. (Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 3b)

If children are separated from their families during an evacuation, the authorities arranging for the evacuation must furnish the Central Tracing Agency of the International Committee of the Red Cross with a card for each child, with that child's personal information and photograph. (Protocol I, Art. 78, Sec. 3)

family rights

Civilians are entitled to their family rights in all circumstances. (Convention IV, Art. 27)

An occupying power must ensure, to the greatest possible extent, that families are not separated during a transfer or evacuation. (Convention IV, Art. 49)

If a family is detained or interned, it shall, whenever possible, be held in the same place or accommodated as a family unit. (Convention IV, Art. 82; Protocol I, Art. 75, Sec. 5)

Interned families must have facilities for leading a proper family life. (Convention IV, Art. 82)

In the case of missing or dead persons, the main guiding principles for the parties to a conflict and for international humanitarian organizations is the right of families to know the fates of their relatives. (Protocol I, Art. 32)

Family members have the right to communicate news of a strictly personal nature to other family members wherever they may be. (Convention IV, Art. 25)

fatigue duties

Fatigue duties not exceeding two hours daily are among the disciplinary punishments applicable to prisoners of war. (Convention III, Art. 88)

Fatigue duties must not be applied to officers. (Convention III, Art. 88)

See disciplinary punishment.

female prisoners of war

Women who are housed in the same prisoner of war camps as men must have separate dormitories. (Convention III, Art. 25)

In addition, women prisoners of war must have separate facilities for personal hygiene. (Convention III, Art. 29)

Women prisoners of war cannot be punished more severely than female — or male — members of the armed forces of the detaining power would be for committing the same offense. (Convention III, Art. 88)

Women prisoners of war who are undergoing disciplinary punishment must be confined in separate quarters from men and must be under the immediate supervision of women. (Convention III, Art. 97)

The above also applies to women who have been duly sentenced to imprisonment. (Convention III, Art. 108)

In addition to the above provisions, there is an Annex I to Convention III, titled "Model Agreement Concerning Direct Repatriation and Accommodation in Neutral Countries of Wounded and Sick Prisoners of War," which states that all women prisoners of war who are pregnant or who are mothers with infants and small children are entitled to accommodation in a neutral country (Convention III, Annex I, Section B7)

female internees

Women must be protected against any attack on their honor, including rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. Women must also not be adversely discriminated against because of their sex. (Convention IV, Art. 27)

Female internees may only be searched by a woman. (Convention IV, Art. 97)

Pregnant women and mothers of children under seven are entitled to the same benefits as nationals of the country in which they are interred. (Convention IV, Art. 38, Sec. 5)

If women who are not members of a family unit are interned in the same place as men, then they must have separate sleeping quarters and sanitary conveniences. (Convention IV, Art. 85)

Women who are accused of offenses and detained must be confined in separate quarters and under the direct supervision of women. (Convention IV, Art. 76)

The above also applies to women internees undergoing disciplinary punishment. (Convention IV, Art. 124)

The detaining power must try to release pregnant women and mothers with young children, to repatriate them, or to find them accommodation in a neutral country. (Convention IV, Art. 132)

See also pregnant women and mothers with young children.

flag, with Red Cross symbol

See Red Cross emblem.

food

As a general principle, all wounded combatants, prisoners of war, internees, and civilians are entitled to adequate food, shelter, and clothing. See specific categories for more information.

See humane treatment of prisoners of war.

See agricultural areas.

See blockades.

forced labor

Detaining powers may compel prisoners of war who are physically fit to do work in keeping with their age, sex, rank and physical aptitude as long as they stay in good physical or mental health. (Convention III, Art. 49)

Prisoners of war may be required to do work connected with camp administration, installation or maintenance, agriculture, mining, manufacturing (except for metallurgical, machinery and chemical industries), non-military transport, commercial business, arts and crafts, domestic service and non-military public utility services. (Convention III, Art. 50)

Prisoners of war must have suitable working conditions, not inferior to those available to the nationals of the detaining power. These include adequate accommodations, food, clothing, and equipment. (Convention III, Art. 51)

No prisoner may be forced to do unhealthy or dangerous labor, or labor that would be considered humiliating for a member of the detaining power's armed forces. The removal of mines or similar devices is specifically identified as dangerous labor. (Convention III, Art. 52)

Aliens can only be forced to work to the same extent that nationals are, and if they are of enemy nationality they may not be forced to do work related to military operations. (Convention IV, Art. 40)

free fire zones

Free fire zones violate the Geneva Conventions as they pertain to indiscriminate attacks against civilians.


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games

While respecting the individual preferences of each prisoner, detaining powers must encourage recreational pursuits and provide adequate facilities. (Convention III, Art. 38)

gas warfare

Prohibited under the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare.

Geneva Conventions, enforcement of

See enforcement of Geneva Conventions.

Geneva Conventions, grave breaches of

See grave breaches of Geneva Conventions.

genocide

Genocide is a violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

It is a crime under international law both in peace and in times of war and is defined as acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, including killing or seriously injuring members of the group, imposing measures indented to prevent births or forcibly transferring children.

See also indiscriminate attacks, civilian immunity, ethnic cleansing and discrimination.

grave breaches

Grave breaches of the Conventions and Protocols are war crimes.

Attacking a person who is hors de combat. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 3)

Practices of apartheid and other inhuman and degrading practices involving outrages upon personal dignity, based on racial discrimination. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 4)

Biological experiments on the wounded and sick. (Convention I, Art. 12; Convention I, Art. 50)

Biological experiments against shipwrecked combatants. (Convention II, Art. 12; Convention II, Art. 51)

Biological experiments against prisoners of war. (Convention III, Art. 130)

Biological experiments against civilians. (Convention IV, Art. 147)

Compelling a prisoner of to serve in the military forces of the hostile power. (Convention III, Art. 130)

Any unlawful act which causes death or seriously endangers the health of a prisoner of war. (Convention III, Art. 13)

Unlawful transfer, deportation or confinement of civilians, willful killing, hostage taking and torture . (Protocol IV, Art. 147)

Attacking cultural objects when they're not located near a military target or used for the war effort. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 4D)

Depriving civilians who are under the control of an enemy power of the right to a fair trial (Convention IV, Art. 147)

Depriving combatants, prisoners of war, refugees, or medical or religious personnel of a fair trial. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 4e)

graves

See burial.

guerrillas

Guerrillas who follow the rules spelled out in the Geneva Conventions are considered to have combatant status and have some of the same rights as regular members of the armed forces.

In international conflicts, guerrillas must distinguish themselves from the civilian population if they are preparing or engaged in an attack. At a minimum, guerrillas must carry their arms openly. (Protocol I, Art. 44, Sec. 3)

Under the earlier Geneva Conventions, which are more widely recognized, a guerrilla army must have a well-defined chain of command, be clearly distinguishable from the civilian population, carry arms openly and observe the laws of war. (Convention III, Art. 4, Sec. 2)

In the case of an internal conflict, combatants must show humane treatment to civilians and enemies who have been wounded or who have surrendered. Murder, hostage-taking and extrajudicial executions are all forbidden. (Convention I, Art. 3)


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historical monuments

See cultural objects.

hors de combat

Combatants who are hors de combat are out of the fight are and entitled to respect for their lives and physical and moral integrity. They are to be protected and treated humanely, without adverse discrimination. (Convention I Art. 3; Protocol I, Art. 4)

Attacking a person who is hors de combat is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 3)

Persons are hors de combat if they have been captured, if they have surrendered, or if they are unconscious or otherwise incapacitated provided that they do not attempt to fight or escape. (Protocol I, Art. 41, Sec. 2)

Parachutists who eject from a damaged aircraft cannot be attacked while they are descending. (Protocol I, Art. 42, Sec. 1)

Parachuters who have landed in hostile territory must be given a chance to surrender, unless they are clearly acting hostile. (Protocol I, Art. 42, Sec. 2)

hospital ships

A hospital ship includes ships build and equipped by the military forces for the sole purpose of assisting the wounded, sick and shipwrecked, to treating them and transporting them. (Convention II, Art. 22)

Hospital ships operated by relief societies and private individuals must be under control of one of the parties to the conflict. (Convention II, Art. 25)

Hospital ships must be declared to the opposing side at least ten days before they are deployed, but once they are, they may not be attacked or captured. (Convention II, Art. 22; Convention I, Art. 20)

Hospital ships may have crew members who carry arms for self-defense or for the maintenance of order; may have navigation or communication equipment; may temporarily store arms taken from the wounded, sick, and shipwrecked; may extend their humanitarian services to civilians; and may transport medical equipment and personnel. (Convention II, Art. 35)

Hospital ships may not commit acts harmful to the enemy, or use or possess a secret communication code. If they do, they lose their protections under the Geneva Conventions after due warning has been given and a reasonable time limit has passed. (Convention II, Art. 34)

Hospital ships must offer aid to all wounded, sick and shipwrecked without discriminating by nationality. (Convention II, Art. 30)

Warships have the right to demand that hospital ships, both military and otherwise, give up all the sick and wounded who are fit to be moved, provided that the warship has sufficient facilities to treat them. (Convention II, Art. 14)

hospitals

Fixed establishments and mobile medical units must be protected and respected by all sides in a conflict. (Convention I, Art. 19)

Hospitals may have personnel who carry arms for self-defense or for the maintenance of order; may be protected by a picket, by sentries, or by an escort; may temporarily store small arms and ammunition taken from patients; may be associated with a veterinary unit; and may treat civilians. (Convention I, Art. 22)

Hospitals may not be used to commit acts harmful to the enemy. If they do, they lose their protections under the Geneva Conventions after due warning has been given and a reasonable time limit has passed. (Convention I, Art. 21)

hostage taking

The taking of hostages is forbidden, both in internal conflicts (Convention I, Art. 3, Sec. 1B and Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 2c) and international conflicts. (Convention IV, Art. 34 and Protocol I, Art. 75, Sec. 2c)

In international conflicts, the taking of hostages is considered a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. (Convention IV, Art. 147)

Also see the 1979 International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages.

human shields

Prisoners of war may not be used as human shields, to protect points or areas from attack. (Convention III, Art. 23)

In international conflicts, civilians may not be used to protect areas from military operations. (Convention IV, Art. 28 and Protocol I, Art. 51, Sec. 7)

Medical units may not be used to protect military objectives from attack. (Protocol I, Art. 12, Sec. 4)

Medical aircraft may not be used to protect military objectives against attack. (Protocol I, Art. 28)

See hostage taking.

humane treatment of internees

Internees retain their civilian status and may exercise all attendant rights. (Convention IV, Art. 80)

Internees must be accommodated according to nationality, language and customs. Family groups must be lodged together and with facilities for leading a proper family life. (Convention IV, Art. 82)

Internees must not be housed in areas exposed to dangers of war. (Convention IV, Art. 83)

Internees must be housed in clean and healthy buildings, adequately heated and lighted, with suitable bedding, sanitary facilities, and separate accommodations for women who are not members of a family group. (Convention IV, Art. 85)

Internees must have access to premises suitable for religious services of any denomination. (Convention IV, Art. 86)

Internees must have enough food and drinking water to avoid nutritional deficiencies and in keeping with their customary diet, with additional food provided for pregnant and nursing mothers and young children. (Convention IV, Art. 89)

Internees must be provided with adequate clothing, footwear, and underwear. (Convention IV, Art. 90)

Internees must have access to adequate medical care. (Convention IV, Art. 91)

See also medical care for internees.

Identification by tattooing or imprinting signs or markings on the body is prohibited, and internees must not be subjected to prolonged standing and roll-calls, punishment drill, military drill and maneuvers, or reduction in food rations. (Convention IV, Art. 100)

In no case may disciplinary penalties be inhuman, brutal or dangerous to the health of the internees. (Convention IV, Art. 119)

Imprisonment in premises without daylight and all forms of cruelty without exception are forbidden. (Convention IV, Art. 118)

Internees may not be transferred to prisons to undergo disciplinary punishment there. (Convention IV, Art. 124)

See also internees, punishment of.

humane treatment of prisoners of war

Prisoners of war must be humanely treated at all times. Any unlawful act which causes death or seriously endangers the health of a prisoner of war is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. In particular, prisoners must not be subject to physical mutilation>, biological experiments, violence, intimidation, insults, and public curiosity. (Convention III, Art. 13)

Prisoners of war must be interred on land, and only in clean and healthy areas. (Convention III, Art. 22)

Prisoners of war are entitled to the same treatment given to a country's own forces, including total surface and cubic space of dormitories, fire protection, adequate heating and lighting, and separate dormitories for women. (Convention III, Art. 25)

Prisoners of war must receive enough food to maintain weight and to prevent nutritional deficiencies, with account of the habitual diet of the prisoners. Food must not be used for disciplinary purposes. (Convention III, Art. 26)

Prisoners of war must receive adequate clothing, underwear and footwear. The clothing must be kept in good repair and prisoners who work must receive clothing appropriate to their tasks. (Convention III, Art. 27)

Also see clothing for prisoners of war.

Prisoners of war must have adequate sanitary facilities, with separate facilities for women prisoners. (Convention III, Art. 29)

Prisoners of war must receive adequate medical attention. (Convention III, Art. 30)

See medical care for prisoners of war.

Prisoners of war must receive due process and fair trials. (Convention III, Art. 82 through Art. 88)

Collective punishment for individual acts, corporal punishment, imprisonment without daylight, and all forms of torture and cruelty are forbidden. (Convention III, Art. 87)

humanitarian aid

Relief consignments, equipment and personnel must be able to pass rapidly and freely if the assistance is meant for the civilian population of the opposing side. This includes medicines, religious items, food and clothing. (Convention IV, Art. 23; Protocol I, Art. 70, Sec. 2)

An exception may be made if there is fear that the shipments would be diverted to help the military. (Convention IV, Art. 23)

Warring parties must allow the free passage of medicine, food and clothing intended for children under 15. (Convention IV, Art. 23)

humanitarian intervention

The Geneva Conventions cannot be used to justify the intervention, direct or indirect, in the internal affairs of a country. (Protocol II, Art. 3)

hygiene of prisoners of war

Prisoners of war must have adequate sanitary facilities, with separate facilities for women prisoners. (Convention III, Art. 29)

Prisoners of war must receive adequate medical attention. (Convention III, Art. 30)


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identification documents

Every combatant must be issued an identity card and cannot be taken away from combatants who have become prisoners of war. (Convention III, Art. 17)

Family or identification documents may not be taken away from an internee without a receipt being given. At no time may internees be left without any identity papers at all. If they have none, the detaining authorities must draw up special documents that will serve as identification papers. (Convention IV, Art. 97)

immunity from attack

See human shields.

imprisonment

See civilians, imprisonment of; prisoners of war, imprisonment of and internees, punishment of.

incitement to genocide

Genocide is forbidden by the 1948 Genocide Convention, which covers acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such, as well as direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

The Geneva Convention, as well, prohibits murder and adverse distinction based on race, color, religion or faith, birth or wealth, or similar criteria. (Convention I, Art. 3)

incurably sick

Incurably wounded and sick prisoners of war whose mental of physical fitness seems to have been gravely diminished must be repatriated directly to their home countries. (Convention III, Art. 110)

indecent assault

Parties to a conflict must respect children, provide them with any care or aid they require, and protect them from any form of indecent assault (Protocol I, Art. 77, Sec. 1).

Female civilians in an occupied territory, internees and refugees must be protected against any attack on their honor, including rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. (Convention IV, Art. 27)

Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault is prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever, whether committed by civilians or military personnel. (Protocol I, Art. 75)

See also rape.

indiscriminate attacks

Indiscriminate attacks are those which are not directed at a specific military objective or those which use a method of attack that cannot be directed at or limited to a specific military objective. (Protocol I, Art. 51, Sec. 4)

This includes area bombardment, where a number of clearly separated military objectives are treated as a single military objective, and where there is a similar concentration of civilians or civilian objects. (Protocol I, Art. 51, Sec. 5a)

This also includes attacks where the expected incidental loss of civilian life or damage to civilian objects is excessive to the military advantage anticipated. (Protocol I, Art. 51, Sec. 5b)

Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. (Protocol I, Art. 51, Sec. 4)

Combatants must distinguish between civilian and military objects and attack only military targets. (Protocol I, Art. 48)

If it becomes apparent that an objective in an attack is not a military one, or if that attack could cause incidental loss of civilian life or damage to civilian objects, then the attack must be called off. (Protocol I, Art. 57)

Information Bureau

At the beginning of a conflict or occupation, each of the parties involved must create an Information Bureau in order to track personal information about prisoners of war. (Convention III, Art. 122)

Records of personal information of wounded, sick or dead combatants who fall into enemy hands must be forwarded to this Information Bureau as soon as possible. (Convention I, Art. 16)

Records of graves or cremations must also be forwarded to the Information Bureau as soon as circumstances permit, or, at the latest, at the end of hostilities. (Convention I, Art. 17)

The above also applies in case of shipwrecks. (Convention II, Art. 19)

Any articles of value or foreign currency which have not been restored to repatriated prisoners of war must be forwarded to the Information Bureau. (Convention III, Art. 119)

inhumane treatment

See humane treatment of prisoners of war, humane treatment of internees, civilian immunity.

insults

See humane treatment of prisoners of war.

intellectual pursuits

While respecting the individual preferences of each prisoner, detaining powers must encourage intellectual pursuits and provide adequate facilities. (Convention III, Art. 38)

Prisoners must be allowed to receive educational materials, including books, scientific equipment, exams, musical instruments, and other materials that allow them to study. (Convention III, Art. 72)

The above also applies to civilian internees. (Convention IV, Art. 94)

internal displacement

Individual or mass forcible transfers of civilians in occupied areas are forbidden, regardless of motive. However, civilians may be temporarily evacuated for safety reasons and returned back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased. (Convention IV, Art. 49)

See also ethnic cleansing.

International Committee of the Red Cross

See Red Cross.

International Fact-Finding Commission

The commission was established in 1991 in order to investigate violations of international humanitarian law and to facilitate respect for that law as outlined in Protocol I, Art. 90.

It may inquire into grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and investigate other violations with consent of all parties involved. (Protocol I, Art. 90, Sec. 2)

internees, money of

Internees are entitled to personal financial accounts, are entitled to access to these accounts, and may draw on these accounts for personal expenses. (Convention IV, Art. 98)

internees, punishment of

All civil laws in a territory continue to apply to internees who commit offenses during internment. However, if an act is only punishable when committed by internees and not other civilians, then that act can only be punished by disciplinary punishments. (Convention IV, Art. 117)

These include fines totaling not more than two weeks' wages, loss of special privileges, a maximum of two hours of fatigue duties a day, or confinement not to exceed thirty consecutive days. (Convention IV, Art. 119)

Imprisonment in premises without daylight and all forms of cruelty without exception are forbidden. (Convention IV, Art. 118)

Internees may not be transferred to prisons to undergo disciplinary punishment there. (Convention IV, Art. 124)

See also humane treatment of internees.

internment

If an occupying power considers it necessary for imperative reasons of security, it may restrict civilians to assigned residents or to internment. Due process must be followed and internees must have the right of appeal. In addition, cases must be reviewed regularly, every six months if possible. (Convention IV, Art. 78)

If the internee is no longer able to work, then the occupying power must provide employment opportunities comparable to those of other civilians or otherwise ensure the internee's support. (Convention IV, Art. 39)

In addition, internees must be allowed to receive allowances from their home countries, from the protecting power, or from relief societies. (Convention IV, Art. 39)

See also humane treatment of internees; internees, punishment of.

interrogation of civilians

Civilians in an occupied territory must not be subject to physical or moral coercion for the purposes of obtaining information from them or from third parties. (Convention IV, Art. 31)

interrogation of prisoners of war

Prisoners of war are only obligated to provide names, ranks, date of birth, army, personal or serial identification numbers or equivalent information. Failure to do so may result in loss of special privileges. (Convention III, Art. 17)

No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion may be inflicted. Prisoners who refuse to answer questions may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind. (Convention III, Art. 17)

Prisoners of war must be questioned in a language they can understand. (Convention III, Art. 17)

intimidation

Civilians in an occupied territory must not be subject to collective penalties or any other measures of intimidation or terrorism. (Convention IV, Art. 33)

irregulars

See guerrillas.

isolation wards

Isolation wards may be used in prisoner of war camps if necessary for cases of contagious or mental disease. (Convention III, Art. 30)

The above also applies to internment camps. (Convention IV, Art. 91)


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journalists

According to the 1949 conventions, journalists who accompany the armed forces and are wounded or sick in an area of conflict are entitled to all the protections afforded to wounded or sick combatants and to prisoners of war. (Convention I, Art. 13, Sec. 4; Convention II, Art. 13, Sec. 4 and Convention III, Art. 4, Sec. 4)

In 1977, journalists were re-classified as civilians. As a result, reporters who wear civilian clothing and otherwise differentiate themselves from members of the armed forces are entitled to the broader protections offered to civilians. (Protocol I, Art. 79)

See civilian immunity for a list of protections.

judges

Public officials or judges in occupying territories may not be coerced into continuing to work if they abstain for reasons of conscience. (Convention IV, Art. 54)

judicial punishment

See prisoners of war, punishment of and internees, punishment of.


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kidnapping

See civilian immunity, hostage taking, fair trial.


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labor

See forced labor, internment.

language of questioning

Prisoners of war must be questioned in a language they can understand. (Convention III, Art. 17)

lawyers

Prisoners of war must have the right to legal advice, particularly in the case of preparing powers of attorney and wills. (Convention III, Art. 77)

The same applies to civilian internees. (Convention IV, Art. 113)

Military commanders must have access to legal advisers to instruct them on the application of the Geneva Conventions. (Protocol I, Art. 82)

legal advice

See lawyers.

legitimate military targets

Legitimate military targets are those which make an effective contribution to military action and whose destruction, capture or neutralization offers a definite military advantage. (Protocol I, Art. 52. Sec. 2)

If there is any doubt as to whether a place of worship, house, school or other civilian object is used for military purposes, then it will be presumed not to be a legitimate military target. (Protocol I, Art. 52, Sec. 3)

See also indiscriminate attacks.

letters

Prisoners of war must be allowed to send and receive letters and cards. Specifically, they must be allowed to send at least two letters and four cards a month. (Convention III, Art. 71)

The above also applies to internees. (Convention IV, Art. 107)

lifeboats

Lifeboats have the same protections under the Geneva Convention as hospital ships . However, for long distances and on the high seas only hospital ships of over 2,000 tons should be used for transport. (Convention II, Art. 26)

livestock

See agricultural areas.


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mail

See letters.

malaria

See contagious diseases.

mass graves

The dead must be honorably buried with the graves properly maintained and marked so that they can be found, with adequate record keeping. (Convention I, Art. 17; Convention III, Art. 120)

Collective graves may be used for dead prisoners of war (Convention III, Art. 120) or internees (Convention IV, Art. 130) only if unavoidable circumstances so require.

medical aircraft

Medical aircraft must be clearly marked and fly only at heights, times and on routes specifically agreed on by the belligerents. Unless agreed otherwise, flights over enemy-controlled territory are forbidden. They must obey every summons to land and may be used only for the evacuation of the sick and wounded and for the transport of medical equipment and personnel. Aircraft that fulfill these requirements may not be attacked. (Convention I, Art. 36)

medical care of internees

Internees must have access to adequate medical care. (Convention IV, Art. 91)

Each camp must have an adequate infirmary, with isolation wards if needed for cases of contagious or mental disease. (Convention IV, Art. 91)

Those pregnant, seriously ill or requiring special treatment must be admitted to any institution where such treatment can be given. (Convention IV, Art. 91)

Internees may not be prevented from seeing medical personnel. Any costs of treatment, including dentures, eyeglasses, and other artificial appliances, will be borne by the occupying power. (Convention IV, Art. 91)

Medical inspections, which must include the recording of the weight of each internee, must be held at least once a month for the purpose of supervising the general state of health, nutrition and cleanliness and to detect contagious diseases. (Convention IV, Art. 92)

medical care of prisoners of war

Prisoners of war must receive adequate medical attention. Each camp must have an adequate infirmary, with isolation wards if needed for cases of contagious or mental disease. (Convention III, Art. 30)

Those seriously ill or requiring special treatment must be admitted to any military or civilian medical unit where such treatment can be given. (Convention III, Art. 30)

Prisoners may not be prevented from seeing medical personnel. Any costs of treatment, including dentures, eyeglasses, and other artificial appliances, will be borne by the detaining power. (Convention III, Art. 30)

Medical inspections, which must include the recording of the weight of each prisoner, must be held at least once a month for the purpose of supervising the general state of health, nutrition and cleanliness and to detect contagious diseases. (Convention III, Art. 31)

medical exams

See biological experiments, medical care of prisoners of war, medical care of internees.

medical experiments

See biological experiments.

medical personnel as prisoners of war

Medical personnel who are detained for the purpose of assisting prisoners may not be considered prisoners of war, although they are entitled to, at a minimum, all the same protections. (Convention III, Art. 33)

In addition, they must have the opportunity to make regular visits to prisoners of war in work detachments or hospitals outside the camp, including transport if needed. (Convention III, Art. 33)

They shall be subject to the internal discipline of the camp in which they are retained, but do not have to do any work other than that concerned with their medical duties. (Convention III, Art. 33)

Medical personnel may not renounce their rights under the Geneva Conventions. (Convention I, Art. 7)

medical supplies

Prisoners of war (Convention III, Art. 72) and internees (Convention IV, Art. 108) must have the right to receive parcels containing medical supplies.

In an occupied territory, the occupying power has the responsibility of assuring adequate medical supplies for the population. (Convention IV, Art. 55)

If there is a lack of medical supplies, the occupying power must agree to and support relief efforts by states or humanitarian organizations. (Convention IV, Art. 59)

In an internal conflict, if the civilian population is suffering from a lack of medical supplies, humanitarian relief actions must be undertaken, subject to the agreement of the country concerned. (Protocol II, Art. 18, Sec. 2)

medical transport

Transports of wounded and sick or of medical equipment must be respected and protected in the same way as mobile medical units. (Convention I, Art. 35)

See also medical aircraft and hospital ships.

medical units

Fixed establishments and mobile medical units must be protected and respected by all sides in a conflict. (Convention I, Art. 19)

Medical units may have personnel who carry arms for self-defense or for the maintenance of order; may be protected by a picket, by sentries, or by an escort; may temporarily store small arms and ammunition taken from patients; may be associated with a veterinary unit; and may treat civilians. (Convention I, Art. 22)

Medical units may not be used to commit acts harmful to the enemy. If they do, they lose their protections under the Geneva Conventions after due warning has been given and a reasonable time limit has passed. (Convention I, Art. 21)

mental torture

See torture.

mercenaries

A mercenary is any person who is specially recruited in order to fight in an armed conflict, who takes a direct part in the hostilities, who is motivated by money and is promised substantially higher pay than that paid to other combatants of similar rank, who is not a national of one of the countries involved in the conflict nor a resident of a territory controlled by any of the parties, is not a member of the armed forces of any of the parties, and who has not been sent by another country on official duty as a member of its armed forces. (Protocol I, Art. 47)

A mercenary does not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war. (Protocol I, Art. 37)

military drill

Internees must not be subjected to prolonged standing and roll-calls, punishment drill, military drill or maneuvers. (Convention IV, Art. 100)

military objectives

See legitimate military targets.

militias

See guerrillas.

mine removal

No prisoner may be forced to do unhealthy or dangerous labor, and the removal of mines or similar devices is specifically identified as dangerous labor. (Convention III, Art. 52)

ministers

See religious personnel.

minors

See children.

missing persons

Parties to a conflict must begin to search for people reported missing by the opposing side as soon as possible and no later than the end of hostilities. (Protocol I, Art. 33, Sec. 1)

The parties must agree on arrangements for search parties to find and recover the dead on battlefields and the personnel of these search parties must be respected and protected. (Protocol I, Art. 33, Sec. 4)

money of prisoners of war

See prisoners of war, money.

money transfers

See prisoners of war, money and internees, money.

mosques

See places of worship.

mothers, expectant

See pregnant women.

mothers of young children

Pregnant women and nursing mothers who are aliens in a warring country must receive the same preferential treatment as nationals. (Convention IV, Art. 38, Sec. 5)

An occupying power must not hinder any pre-existing measures in regard to food, medical care and special protection of benefit to women of children under 7. (Convention IV, Art. 50)

In internment camps, pregnant and nursing women must receive additional food, in proportion to their physiological needs. (Convention IV, Art. 89)

The detaining power must work as quickly as possible to repatriate or release to their homes or to neutral countries pregnant women or mothers with infants or young children. (Convention IV, Art. 132 and Protocol I, Art. 76, Sec. 2)

When relief supplies are distributed to civilian populations, preference must be given to children, pregnant and nursing women. (Protocol I, Art. 69)

In internal conflicts, the death penalty must not be carried out against pregnant women or mothers with young children. (Protocol II, Art. 6, Sec. 4)

murder

Murder is forbidden by the Geneva Conventions, both in cases of internal conflicts (Convention I, Art. 3, Sec. 1A), wounded combatants (Convention I, Art. 12), civilians in occupied territories (Convention IV, Art. 32), civilians in international conflicts (Protocol I, Art. 75, Sec. 2Ai) and civilians in internal conflicts (Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 2A).

mutilation

Mutilation is forbidden by the Geneva Conventions, both in cases of internal conflicts (Convention I, Art. 3, Sec. 1A), wounded combatants (Convention I, Art. 12), civilians in occupied territories (Convention IV, Art. 32), civilians in international conflicts (Protocol I, Art. 75, Sec. 2Ai) and civilians in internal conflicts (Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 2A).


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nationality, discrimination by

See discrimination.

neutral countries

Neutral countries are countries that are not involved in a conflict.

They have the obligation to observe the requirements of the Geneva Conventions in the cases of wounded and sick combatants, dead bodies found, or members of medical and religious personnel of parties to a conflict. (Convention I, Art. 4)

Nationals of neutral powers may be appointed to oversee the enforcement of the Geneva Conventions. (Convention I, Art. 8)

If a protecting power no longer carries out its duties with regard to wounded, medical or religious personnel (Convention I, Art. 10), shipwrecked personnel (Convention II, Art. 10), prisoners of war (Convention III, Art. 10) or civilians in an occupied territory (Convention IV, Art. 11), a detaining power may ask a neutral country to carry out those duties.

neutralized zones

See demilitarized zones.

non-combatant status

Feigning of civilian or non-combatant status is perfidy and prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. (Protocol I. Art. 37, Sec. 1)

non-defended localities

A non-defended locality is an area declared as such by a party to the conflict from which all combatants, mobile weapons and mobile military equipment have been evacuated, in which fixed military installations are not being used for hostile purposes, in which the authorities and the population commit no hostile acts, and in which no activities in support of military operations are undertaken. (Protocol I, Art. 59, Sec. 2)

Attacks against non-defended localities are forbidden. (Protocol I, Art. 59, Sec. 2)

nuclear power plants

See dangerous installations.

nutrition

See food.


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occupied territories

The fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 details the rights and obligations of an occupying power in an occupied territory.

See internment, civilian immunity.

officers

Officers who have become prisoners of war receive special protections under the Geneva Conventions.

Officers and prisoners of equivalent rank must be treated with the regard due their rank and age, and other ranks of the same armed forces must be assigned in sufficient numbers to ensure service in officers' camps. (Convention III, Art. 44)

Officers or persons of equivalent status may not in any circumstances be compelled to work, but may be assigned suitable jobs if they request them. (Convention III, Art. 49)

Non-commissioned officers can only be required to do supervisory work. (Convention III, Art. 49)

orphans

Warring parties must see to the education of orphans or lost children under 15. The education must be entrusted, when possible, to people of a similar cultural tradition. (Convention IV, Art. 24)


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parachutists

Parachutists who eject from a damaged aircraft cannot be attacked while they are descending. (Protocol I, Art. 42, Sec. 1)

Parachuters who have landed in hostile territory must be given a chance to surrender, unless they are clearly acting hostile. (Protocol I, Art. 42, Sec. 2)

Airborne troops don't get any special protections. (Protocol I, Art. 42, Sec. 3)

paramilitaries

See guerrillas.

parcels

Prisoners of war must be allowed to receive parcels containing food, clothing, medical supplies, religious, educational and recreational objects. (Convention III, Art. 72)

Detainees in occupied territories must be allowed to receive at least once relief parcel monthly. (Convention IV, Art. 76)

Internees must be allowed to receive parcels containing food, clothing, medical supplies, as well as books and religious, educational or recreational objects. (Convention IV, Art. 108)

parole of prisoners of war

Prisoners of war may be released on parole or promise, in so far as it is allowed by the countries of origin. No prisoner may be forced to accept parole, but if they do, they are honor-bound to fulfill the requirements of the parole. (Convention III, Art. 21)

pay

Both prisoners of war (Convention III, Art. 62) and internees (Convention IV, Art. 95) must be paid for their labor.

penitentiaries

See civilians, imprisonment of; prisoners of war, imprisonment of and internees, punishment of.

penal laws in occupied territories

Penal laws may not be changed in an occupied territory except when there is a threat to state security or when they violate the Geneva Conventions. (Convention IV, Art. 64)

perfidy

It is prohibited to pretend to surrender, without an actual intention to do so. (Protocol I, Art. 37, Sec. 1)

Pretending to seek a cease-fire with the intent to betray the confidence in order to kill, injure or capture an adversary is perfidy and is prohibited. (Protocol I, Art. 37, Sec. 1a)

persecution

See discrimination, humane treatment of prisoners of war, humane treatment of internees, and civilian immunity.

personal belongings

The Geneva Conventions require that all personal property rights be respected, including those of medical and religious personnel (Convention I, Art. 30 and Art. 32), humanitarian aid workers (Convention I, Art. 34), prisoners of war (Convention III, Art. 18), refugees (Convention IV, Art. 35), civilians in occupied territories (Convention IV, Art. 53) and internees (Convention IV, Art. 97).

pillage

The act of pillage includes the violent taking of goods or money or the taking of war booty. It is forbidden by the Geneva Conventions.

Pillage is prohibited in occupied territories (Convention IV, Art. 34) and in internal conflicts. (Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 2g)

In addition, at all times, and particularly after an engagement, warring parties must take all possible steps to protect the wounded and sick against pillage. (Convention I, Art. 15)

See also personal belongings.

places of worship

Acts of hostility towards places of worship in international conflicts are prohibited. Places of worship may not be used in support of the military effort, and they cannot be the objects of reprisals. (Protocol I, Art. 53)

These prohibitions also apply in non-international conflicts. (Protocol II, Art. 16)

If there is any doubt as to whether a place of worship is being used to help the military action, then it will be presumed not to be so used. (Protocol I, Art. 52, Sec. 3)

Attacks against places of worship are grave breaches against the Geneva Convention. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 4)

poisonous weapons

See chemical weapons.

political opinions, discrimination by

See discrimination.

postal service

See letters, parcels.

POWs

See prisoners of war.

precautionary measures

Prior to an attack, a number of precautionary measures must be taken to ensure that that the civilian population, and civilian objects are spared. (Protocol I, Art. 57, Sec. 1)

These include verification that the objectives of the attack are legitimate military targets, and, if possible, advance warnings in case of attacks that may affect the civilian population. (Protocol I, Sec. 2)

pregnant women

Pregnant women in occupied territories must receive special protection and respect. (Convention IV, Art. 16)

Pregnant women and nursing mothers who are aliens in a warring country must receive the same preferential treatment as nationals. (Convention IV, Art. 38, Sec. 5)

An occupying power must not hinder any pre-existing measures in regard to food, medical care and special protection of benefit to pregnant women. (Convention IV, Art. 50)

In internment camps, pregnant and nursing women must receive additional food, in proportion to their physiological needs. (Convention IV, Art. 89)

The detaining power must work as quickly as possible to repatriate or release to their homes or to neutral countries pregnant women or mothers with infants or young children. (Convention IV, Art. 132 and Protocol I, Art. 76, Sec. 2)

When relief supplies are distributed to civilian populations, preference must be given to children, pregnant and nursing women. (Protocol I, Art. 69)

In internal conflicts, the death penalty must not be carried out against pregnant women or mothers with young children. (Protocol II, Art. 6, Sec. 4)

prison

See civilians, imprisonment of; prisoners of war, imprisonment of and internees, punishment of.

prisoners of war

Prisoners of war are accorded a number of protections in the Third Geneva Convention of 1949.

For a list of some protections, see humane treatment of prisoners of war and medical care of prisoners of war.

prisoners of war, blind

Blind prisoners are singled out in the Geneva Convention as deserving of special facilities. The detaining power must provide needed treatment and equipment, including glasses. (Convention III, Art. 30)

See also medical care of prisoners of war.

prisoners of war, burial of

See burial.

prisoners of war, cremation of

See cremation.

prisoners of war, dead

See burial, cremation, and death certificates.

prisoners of war, death certificates

See death certificates.

prisoners of war, dental treatment

See dental treatment.

prisoners of war, disabled

See wounded prisoners of war.

prisoners of war, evacuation

See transfer of prisoners of war.

prisoners of war, humane treatment

See humane treatment of prisoners of war.

prisoners of war, hygiene

See humane treatment of prisoners of war.

prisoners of war, imprisonment

A prisoner of war awaiting trial must not be confined unless members of the detaining country's own armed forces would also be confined in the same circumstances. (Convention III, Art. 103)

Any time spent in confinement waiting for trial will count towards time served. (Convention III, Art. 103)

The protecting powers must be immediately notified once a prisoner is sentenced. (Convention III, Art. 105)

All prisoners must have the right of appeal or petition and be informed of these rights and of any time limits on them. (Convention III, Art. 106)

Imprisonment in premises without daylight is forbidden. (Convention III, Art. 87)

See also fair trials.

prisoners of war, letters home

Immediately upon capture, or within a week after arrival at a prisoner of war camp, transit camp, or hospital, prisoners have the right to write directly to their families. (Convention III, Art. 70)

prisoners of war, medical care

See medical care of prisoners of war.

prisoners of war, medical personnel

See medical personnel as prisoners of war.

prisoners of war, money

Cash taken from prisoners of war must be kept in separate accounts. (Convention III, Art. 59)

Prisoners are entitled to regular wages, which may be paid into the accounts (Convention III, Art. 62) and must be allowed remittances to the accounts and access to the money in the accounts (Convention III, Art. 63)

Once a prisoner is released or repatriated, the prisoner must receive an account statement and the native country is responsible for paying out any money due – although this provision may be negotiated by the warring parties. (Convention III, Art. 66)

prisoners of war, parole

See parole of prisoners of war.

prisoners of war, records

See prisoners of war, money.

prisoners of war, sick

See wounded prisoners of war.

prisoners of war, transfer

See transfer of prisoners of war.

prisoners of war, women

See female prisoners of war.

prisoners of war, wounded

See wounded prisoners of war.

prisoners' representatives

In all prisoner of war camps, except where officers are present, the prisoners must be allowed to freely elect representatives by secret ballot every six months and in case of vacancies. These representatives will lobby for prisoners' interest before the military authorities, the protecting powers, and

. (Convention III, Art. 79)

Prisoners of war must be allowed to freely consult with their representatives, and these representatives must be allowed to freely visit premises where prisoners are kept. (Convention III, Art. 81)

proportionality

See civilian immunity, legitimate military targets, indiscriminate attacks.

prostitution

Female civilians in an occupied territory, internees and refugees must be protected against any attack on their honor, including rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. (Convention IV, Art. 27)

Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault is prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever, whether committed by civilians or military personnel. (Protocol I, Art. 75)

See also rape.

protected persons

Each Geneva Convention defines a certain class of protected persons. The First Convention applies to wounded and sick, as well as religious and medical personnel.

The Second Convention extends protections to shipwrecked combatants.

The Third Convention protects prisoners of war.

The Four Convention protects civilians in occupied territories.

The First Protocol protects victims of international conflicts and the Second Protocol extends protections to victims of internal conflicts.

protecting power

The protecting power is the country of origin, a neutral state, or some other entity that, according to agreement of the warring parties, will act to protect the interests of wounded or sick personnel, prisoners of war, internees, or other persons controlled by a hostile power.

If a protecting power no longer carries out its duties with regard to wounded, medical or religious personnel (Convention I, Art. 10), shipwrecked personnel (Convention II, Art. 10), prisoners of war (Convention III, Art. 10) or civilians in an occupied territory (Convention IV, Art. 11), a detaining power may ask a neutral country to carry out those duties.

public curiosity

Prisoners of war must be protected against insults and public curiosity. (Convention III, Art. 13)

public officials

Public officials or judges in occupying territories may not be coerced into continuing to work if they abstain for reasons of conscience. (Convention IV, Art. 54)

punishment drill

See military drill.


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quarter, giving no

The execution of defenseless combatants is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 3)

See hors de combat.

questioning

See interrogation.


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racial discrimination

Practices of apartheid and other inhuman and degrading practices involving outrages upon personal dignity, based on racial discrimination are prohibited and are considered grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 4)

rape

Parties to a conflict must respect children, provide them with any care or aid they require, and protect them from any form of indecent assault (Protocol I, Art. 77, Sec. 1).

Female civilians in an occupied territory, internees and refugees must be protected against any attack on their honor, including rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. (Convention IV, Art. 27 and Protocol I, Art. 76, Sec. 1)

Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault is prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever, whether committed by civilians or military personnel. (Protocol I, Art. 75)

These protections also apply in cases of internal conflict. (Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 2e)

rations

See food.

recapture

See escape attempts.

records of prisoners of war

See prisoners of war, money.

recreation

While respecting the individual preferences of each prisoners, detaining powers must encourage recreational pursuits and provide adequate facilities. (Convention III, Art. 38)

recruiting

Children under 15 must not participate in hostilities and must not be recruited into the armed forces. (Protocol I, Art. 77, Sec. 2; Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 3c)

The occupying power cannot use propaganda, pressure or force to compel civilians in an occupied territory to join its armed forces. (Convention IV, Art. 51)

Red Cross

See medical personnel, Red Cross emblem and relief organizations.

Red Cross emblem

The red cross on a white background is reserved for the use of the medical services of the armed forces. (Convention I, Art. 38; Convention II, Art. 41)

The only exception are the Red Cross societies, but when these societies use the emblem during war it must be comparably small in size and does not confer the protections of the Geneva Convention that apply to medical organizations. (Convention I, Art. 44)

Improper use of the Red Cross, Red Crescent or Red Lion and Sun emblems are prohibited. (Protocol I, Art. 38)

refoulement

Civilians in an occupied territory must not be transferred to a country where they have reason to fear persecution based on their political or religious beliefs. (Convention IV, Art. 45)

refugees

Refugees and stateless persons are protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention to the same extent as civilians in occupied territories. (Protocol I, Art. 73)

relief shipments

Relief consignments, equipment and personnel must be able to pass rapidly and freely if the assistance is meant for the civilian population of the opposing side. This includes medicines, religious items, food and clothing. (Convention IV, Art. 23; Protocol I, Art. 70, Sec. 2)

An exception may be made if there is fear that the shipments would be diverted to help the military. (Convention IV, Art. 23)

Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited. (Protocol I, Art. 54, Sec. 1)

relief organizations

Military authorities must allow relief societies, even in invaded or occupied areas, to collect and care for the wounded or sick of any nationality. However, this does not relieve the occupying power of its obligation to care for the wounded and sick. (Convention I, Art. 18)

Relief organizations must receive all necessary facilities for visiting prisoners of war and for distributing relief supplies. The special position of the International Committee of the Red Cross in this field must be recognized and respected at all times. (Convention III, Art. 125)

Relief organizations must be allowed to visit civilians in all areas of international conflict (Convention IV, Art. 30) including internees (Convention IV, Art. 142) and civilian populations of adverse parties (Protocol I, Art. 70, Sec. 2).

In internal conflicts, relief efforts are subject to the approval of the government of the country in question. (Protocol II, Art. 18, Sec. 2)

See also blockade.

religious personnel

Captured religious personnel may be held only to the extent that they are needed by prisoners of war. (Convention I, Art. 28)

They must be allowed to make regular visits to prisoners and must not be required to do any other work beside their religious duties. (Convention I, Art. 28)

religious services

Adequate premises must be provided to prisoners of war (Convention III, Art. 34) and internees (Convention IV, Art. 86) for religious services to be held.

remains of deceased

The remains of persons who died for reasons related to the conflict must be respected. (Protocol I, Art. 34, Sec. 1)

remittances

Prisoners of war must be allowed to receive remittances or money addressed to them individually or collectively. (Convention III, Art. 63)

repatriation

Prisoners of war must be released and repatriated without delay at the close of hostilities. (Convention III, Art. 118)

Prisoners who are incurably wounded and sick must be repatriated immediately. (Convention III, Art. 110)

reprisals

Reprisals against civilians in occupied territories are forbidden. (Convention IV, Art. 33)

requisitioning supplies

Warring parties must not requisition the property of relief societies except in cases of urgent necessity and only after the welfare of the wounded and sick has been ensured. (Convention I, Art. 34)

An occupying power may not requisition food, medical supplies or other articles for use by the occupation forces and administrative personnel unless the requirements of the civilian population have been taken into account, and with proper payment for the goods. (Convention IV, Art. 55)

resettlement

See deportation, ethnic cleansing.

resistance movements

See guerrillas.

reunion of families

See family reunions.

roll-calls

See military drills.

ruses of war

Ruses of war are not prohibited. These include camouflage, decoys, mock operations and misinformation. (Protocol I, Art 37, Sec. 2) Pretending to surrender, however, is not an accepted ruse of war (see perfidy). Neither is falsely using a Red Cross emblem.


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sabotage

An occupying power may sentence civilians to death if they are guilty of serious acts of sabotage — but only if these offenses were punishable by death by local laws before the occupation began. (Convention IV, Art. 68)

saboteurs

See sabotage.

safety zones

Hospital zones, neutralized zones and demilitarized zones may be created with the consent of the belligerents. (Convention IV, Protocol I)

saluting

All prisoners of war except for officers must salute the officers of the detaining power. (Convention III, Art. 39)

Officers are bound to salute only officers of a higher rank or the camp commander regardless of rank. (Convention III, Art. 39)

sanitary facilities

See humane treatment of prisoners of war, humane treatment of internees.

scientific experiments

See biological experiments.

secret communication by hospital ships

See hospital ships.

sexual discrimination

See discrimination.

sexual violence

See rape.

shelter

As a general principle, all wounded combatants, prisoners of war, internees, and civilians are entitled to adequate food, shelter, and clothing. See specific categories for more information.

See humane treatment of prisoners of war.

shipwrecks

Shipwrecked combatants are afforded protections by the Second Geneva Convention, regardless of the cause of the wreck and including forced landings at sea or from aircraft. (Convention II, Art. 12)

Among these are the right to be treated humanely and must not be tortured, murdered, or subject to biological experiments. (Convention II, Art. 12)

shoes

See clothing.

showers

See humane treatment of prisoners of war, humane treatment of internees.

sick prisoners of war

See wounded prisoners of war.

sickbays

If fighting occurs on board a warship, sickbays must be respected and spared as far as possible. (Convention II, Art. 28)

See medical units, hospital ships.

sieges

See blockades.

shields

See human shields.

skin donations

Although protected persons may not be subject to medical experiments or forced to donate organs, they may be asked to donate blood or give skin for grafting. These donations must be entirely voluntary, without coercion or inducement, and take place under medical conditions that are generally accepted as adequate and only for therapeutic purposes. (Protocol I, Art. 11, Sec. 3)

slavery

Slavery and the slave trade in all its forms are forbidden at any time and in any place whatsoever. (Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 2f)

soap

See humane treatment of internees, humane treatment of prisoners of war.

soldiers

See combatants.

spies

Combatant who are captured while spying do not have the right to prisoner of war status unless they were wearing their military uniforms. (Protocol I, Art. 46)

sports

While respecting the individual preferences of each prisoners, detaining powers must encourage exercise and recreational pursuits and provide adequate facilities. (Convention III, Art. 38)

starvation

Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited. (Protocol I, Art. 54, Sec. 1)

stateless persons

Refugees and stateless persons are protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention to the same extent as civilians in occupied territories. (Protocol I, Art. 73)

supplies, requisitioning

See requisitioning.

support personnel

Persons who accompany the armed forces such as aircraft crews, supply contractors, laborers and ship crews are all entitled to prisoner of war status if captured. (Convention III, Art. 4, Sec. 4 and Sec. 5)

surrender

It is forbidden to kill or injure an enemy who surrenders who is hors de combat.

It is forbidden to pretend to surrender, without an actual intention to do so. See perfidy. (Protocol I, Art. 37, Sec. 1)

surveillance

Prisoners of war who have attempted to escape may be subject to special surveillance as long as their other rights are not violated. (Convention III, Art. 92)

See escape attempts, humane treatment of prisoners of war.

survivors, leaving none

See quarter, giving no and hors de combat.

synagogues

See places of worship.


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tattooing

The identification of internees by tattooing or imprinting signs or markings on their bodies is prohibited. (Convention IV, Art. 100)

terrorism

Civilians who commit an offense against an occupying power which does not include an attempt against the lives of members of the occupying force or administration, pose a grave collective danger, or seriously damage property or installations of the occupying power may only be punished by internment or imprisonment. (Convention IV, Art. 68)

Civilians in an occupied territory must not be subject to collective penalties or any other measures of intimidation or terrorism. (Convention IV, Art. 33)

tobacco

Prisoners of war must be allowed to use tobacco. (Convention III, Art. 26)

Tobacco must be available to prisoners of war at canteens. (Convention III, Art. 28)

Similarly, tobacco must be available to internees. (Convention IV, Art. 87)

torture

Torture is forbidden by the Geneva Conventions, both in cases of internal conflicts (Convention I, Art. 3, Sec. 1A), wounded combatants (Convention I, Art. 12), civilians in occupied territories (Convention IV, Art. 32), civilians in international conflicts (Protocol I, Art. 75, Sec. 2Ai) and civilians in internal conflicts (Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 2A).

transfer of civilians

See deportation, ethnic cleansing, evacuation.

transfer of prisoners of war

Sick and wounded prisoners of war must not be transferred if the move would endanger their recovery, unless their safety requires it. (Convention III, Art. 47)

Incurably wounded and sick prisoners of war whose mental of physical fitness seems to have been gravely diminished must be repatriated directly to their home countries. (Convention III, Art. 110)

treachery

See perfidy.

trials

See fair trials.

tuberculosis

See contagious diseases.


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undefended towns

See non-defended localities.

underwear

See clothing.

unemployment

See labor.

unlawful confinement

Unlawful confinement of civilians is a grave breach of the Geneva Convention. (Convention IV, Art. 147)


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venereal disease

See contagious diseases.

violence

Civilians have special protections under Convention IV, Protocol I, and Protocol II.

They must be treated humanely, without discrimination based on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or other similar criteria.

Violence to life and person including murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture are prohibited.

visitors

See relief organizations, medical personnel, religious personnel.

volunteer corps

See guerrillas.


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wanton destruction

See indiscriminate attacks.

war correspondents

See journalists.

war crimes

War crimes are againt the customary laws of war which are applicable in any conflict, regardless of whether the country in question is a signatory to the Geneva Convention. They include the rights listed in the common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions (Convention I, Article 3) and the basics of human rights law – freedom from torture, mutilation and rape, slavery, and willful killing. Customary law also forbids genocide, crimes against humanity, as well as war crimes.

See grave breaches.

water supplies

See blockades.

willful killing

See indiscriminate attacks.

women

Women must be protected against any attack on their honor, including rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. Women must also not be adversely discriminated against because of their sex. (Convention IV, Art. 27)

See also mothers with young children, pregnant women and female internees.

women as prisoners of war

See female prisoners of war.

women with young children

See mothers with young children.

working conditions

See labor.

worship, places of

See places of worship.

wounded combatants

The wounded and sick are to be collected and cared for by the party that has them in its power. (Convention I, Art. 3, Sec. 2)

The wounded cannot renounce their Geneva Convention protections (Convention I, Art. 7)

wounded prisoners of war

Each camp must have an adequate infirmary and, if additional treatment is necessary, prisoners of war must be admitted to any military or civilian hospital where that treatment can be given, even if they are soon to be repatriated. (Convention III, Art. 30)

Seriously wounded and sick prisoners must be sent back to their own countries as soon as they are fit to travel. (Convention III, Art. 109 and Art. 110)

Sick and wounded prisoners of war must not be transferred if the move would endanger their recovery, unless their safety requires it. (Convention III, Art. 47)

Incurably wounded and sick prisoners of war whose mental of physical fitness seems to have been gravely diminished must be repatriated directly to their home countries. (Convention III, Art. 110)


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Copyright © 2003 Maria Trombly. All rights reserved.

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