ICRC databases on international humanitarian law
  • Print page
Commentary - Art. 32. Part III : Captivity #Section II : Internment of prisoners of war #Chapter III : Hygiene and medical attention
    ARTICLE 32. -- PRISONERS ENGAGED ON MEDICAL DUTIES


    The status of medical personnel, i.e. physicians, surgeons (1), nurses, etc., ' who are attached to the medical service of their armed forces ' is governed by Articles 24 , 25 and 28 of the First Convention and by Article 33 of the present Convention. Such personnel who fall into the hands of the enemy ' are not ' prisoners of war. They may be retained to assist prisoners of war.
    The present Article refers only to the relatively rare case of physicians, surgeons, etc. who are not attached to the medical service but are members of the armed forces and, as such, are prisoners of war.
    In the interests of prisoners of war and because of their civilian profession, they may be required by the Detaining Power to exercise their medical functions as work under Article 49 .
    While exercising their medical functions, such physicians and surgeons and medical orderlies (2) will be in exactly the same position as retained medical personnel. But since they are nevertheless prisoners of war, they will not be eligible for relief under Article 33, paragraph 3 .
    Their medical activity constitutes work, and they must therefore be paid for it.


    * (1) [(1) p.215] See ' Final Record of the Diplomatic
    Conference of Geneva of 1949 ', Vol. II-A, p. 476; Vol.
    III, pp. 35-37, No. 32 and p. 67, No. 109;

    (2) [(2) p. 215] The French text uses the term "médecins",
    which includes both physicians and surgeons;