During the Second World War, the 1929 Convention had proved effective in protecting combatants captured in the hands of Contracting States, so the new GC III in 1949 aimed to strengthen this protection and make it universal. The Third Geneva Convention marked an important milestone in the history of prisoners of war and established a solid legal framework for their protection. Once captured by the enemy, prisoners of war are subject to the laws of the armed forces that hold them. They must act in accordance with the rules and regulations of their captors, and if they violate these rules, they will be subjected to the same trial and punishment as a member of the army who arrests them. They are under the control of the power of detention and their detention is lawful; Therefore, their flight is a violation of this law. So if they escape, they can be punished. But only if they are captured again before being part of their own army. If they manage to escape – if they return to the territory of their own armed forces – and are then captured again, they cannot be punished for their previous escape. The same rule of success that denies the offense applies to spies who escape their captors: if a spy breaks up and is caught before returning “home”, he can still be judged as a spy; If he returns to his own camp and is captured again, he is no longer considered a spy who is tried and punished – he is considered a prisoner of war and therefore protected. But because the Kremlin has repeatedly referred to Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol as “Nazis,” some human rights groups and legal experts fear that Russia will deny Ukrainian prisoners the protection of prisoners of war. Detention is illegal (prisoners of war can only be held in prison cells if they serve their own protection), but internment is allowed – they can be kept within certain limits.
However, your location should be as far away from the fighting as possible. In addition to being held in a special “camp”, prisoners of war must be granted all the rights and privileges that their captor grants to his own armed forces, at least in terms of food, water, shelter, clothing, movement, correspondence, religious practice and other basic human needs. They need to be informed of their exact location – in fact along with their postal address – so that their loved ones can send them letters and packages. Consequently, the category of “illegal combatants”, which is used to prevent certain combatants from benefiting from the status or protection of prisoners, has had no legal basis in humanitarian law since the 1977 Additional Protocols. Humanitarian law establishes a framework that establishes procedural safeguards to be used in deciding whether a person should be classified as a civilian or a combatant and whether he or she should enjoy prisoner of war status. The application of the above provisions does not affect the legal status of the parties to the conflict. Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention protects captured military personnel, certain guerrillas and certain civilians. It applies from the moment a prisoner is captured until he is released or repatriated. One of the main provisions of the Convention prohibits the torture of prisoners and stipulates that a prisoner may only be required to provide his or her name, date of birth, rank and service number (if any). According to Additional Protocol I of 1977, prisoner of war status is linked to objective criteria based on direct participation in the conflict and not to legal criteria based on official membership of the armed forces.
Therefore, both combatants and civilians directly involved in a conflict can claim the status of prisoners of war and the protection that accompanies it. For the most part, prisoners of war are members of the armed forces who have fallen into the hands of the enemy. For a complete list of persons entitled to prisoner of war status and treatment, click here. Prisoner of war status is legally recognized only for international armed conflicts – conflicts between states. There is no prisoner of war status in non-international armed conflicts, sometimes referred to as “civil wars”. Prisoner of war status is governed by the Third Geneva Convention and Additional Protocol I. But the legal imperative changes when prisoners of war are brought to justice. In this context, it is important that the trial be monitored and made public to ensure that the defendants receive a fair trial,” Reidy said. Combatants – mainly members of the armed forces, with the exception of medical and religious personnel – have the right to participate in hostilities; So if they are in the hands of the enemy (i.e. prisoners of war), they cannot be prosecuted simply for fighting for their state. However, they are not immune from prosecution for certain acts, including violations of IHL, in particular for serious acts that constitute war crimes.
When prisoners of war are accused of crimes, they have the right to due process and a fair trial. They do not lose their status as prisoners of war and retain their protection under the Third Geneva Convention until their final release and repatriation. In addition, it is particularly important that prisoners of war who are tried are not exposed to the curiosity of the public, as this greatly increases the pain, fear and hardship of their families. The expulsion of prisoners of war under any other label in no way affects or diminishes the legal protection afforded to them by the Third Geneva Convention. Failure to grant prisoners of war the right to a fair and fair trial may constitute a grave violation of the Third Geneva Convention. Read more about the Third Geneva Convention and judicial guarantees for prisoners of war to be tried in this blog post. In 2000, the U.S. Army replaced the “prisoner of war” designation for captured U.S.
personnel with “Missing-Captured.” A Directive of January 2008 indicates that the reason for this is that, since the term “prisoner of war” is the internationally recognized legal status for these persons, it is not necessary for a single country to follow this example. This change remains relatively unknown even among experts in the field, and “Prisoner of War” remains prevalent in the Pentagon, which has a “Prisoner of War/Disappeared Personnel Office” and awards the Prisoner of War Medal.   With respect to the interrogation of prisoners of war, the interrogation tactics that appear common in wartime are all illegal. The Third Geneva Convention prohibits anything that goes beyond mere questioning: indeed, common article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions provides fundamental guarantees for all persons who do not take part or no longer take part in hostilities (in international or non-international armed conflicts). It offers the same rights to all individuals and regardless of the circumstances. States may not invoke the particular nature of the conflict, the difficulty of classifying it, the allegation of unlawful participation in hostilities, terrorism or the nationality of the person concerned to refuse to apply common article 3 to persons subject to their power and effective control.