ICRC databases on international humanitarian law
  • Print page
Commentary - Art. 98. Part III : Status and treatment of protected persons #Section IV : Regulations for the treatment of internees #Chapter VI : Personal property and financial resources
    ARTICLE 98. -- FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND INDIVIDUAL
    ACCOUNTS


    [p.425] PARAGRAPH 1. -- ALLOWANCES FROM THE DETAINING POWER

    The allowances referred to in this paragraph are in fact the pocket money mentioned in the last paragraph of the preceding Article . Deprived by internment of the resources obtained through their normal activities, those of the internees who have nothing in reserve would soon be reduced to such poor circumstances that in order to procure the slightest additional comfort over and above their maintenance, for which the Detaining Power is responsible, they would be compelled to work, and that is contrary to the rule laid down in Article 95 . In order to avoid such a contingency, the first paragraph of Article 98 lays down that the Detaining Power is to pay them regular allowances, which, although modest, will enable the poorest among them to purchase at least the minimum considered necessary to sustain their morale and enable them to preserve their personal dignity. Those who have private means will also draw the allowances, since it was thought better not to draw attention to differences in the financial position of different internees by treating
    them differently.

    PARAGRAPH 2. -- ALLOWANCES FROM OTHER SOURCES

    Internees may also receive money from other sources.

    1. ' Allowances from the Power of Origin or from the Protecting Power '

    Internees have nearly always been interned because of their nationality. They fall foul of wartime legislation because they are citizens of an enemy State; it is therefore only fair that the Power to which they owe allegiance (or failing it, the Protecting Power) should help them to bear the consequences. The Detaining Power, for its part, is bound for reasons of humanity to authorize allowances from these sources. The principle that this form of aid should be authorized is, moreover, embodied in Article 39, paragraph 3 , of this Convention, an Article which applies to protected persons in general.
    It was thought desirable, however, that the allocation or distribution of these remittances should not be influenced by political considerations. [p.426] It should be noted that the ban on preferential treatment for particular internees or groups of internees applies both to the Power of Origin and the Detaining Power. In the case of the latter the prohibition may be considered normal, since it refers to a protected person, but in the case of the Power of Origin the Convention interferes here in the relations between a State and its own citizens. This is a bold provision, though a wise one, which represents an exception to the rule that the protection of persons does not apply to their relations with the State to which they owe allegiance.
    All discrimination contrary to Article 27 is prohibited. On the other hand implicit authority is given for the discrimination permitted by that Article for humanitarian reasons, in order to favour classes of people who are in particular need of help (the infirm, the sick, pregnant women, etc.) (1). All this is an example of the application of the principle of non-discrimination, as understood in humanitarian law -- that is to say the rule which forbids all differentiation based on race, political opinions, religion or social class, but at the same time demands that the different degrees of suffering should be alleviated by different degrees of assistance.

    2. ' Allowances from families or from charitable organizations '

    Internees are also entitled to receive assistance from their families or from "the organizations which may assist them". This is another case of the application of the principle set forth in Article 39, paragraph 3 . In this instance, the reservation in regard to non-discrimination is not made, as each family should obviously be allowed to favour its own members. The question is more difficult in the case of charitable organizations. Will religious societies, for example, be permitted to favour members of their own religion or denomination? Yes, undoubtedly they will, provided that all such societies are treated on the same footing and if it causes no major difficulty of discipline. The same argument applies as for families. If charitable organizations, however, draw their resources from public collections organized independently of any religious body, it is conceivable that the rule of non-discrimination imposed on the public authorities should also apply to them. That, in any case, is the rule by which the International Committee of the Red Cross
    is guided, in accordance with its own statutes, and the same should apply, it seems, to any other non-denominational social welfare organization.

    [p.427] 3. ' Income on property '

    Internees who have private means are authorized to receive the income on their property in accordance with the law of the Detaining Power. Sequestration under wartime legislation suspends the free disposal of enemy property; but the income from that property continues to be drawn and it may be agreed, for reasons of humanity, that it should be at the owner's disposal within the limits authorized by the Detaining Power.

    PARAGRAPH 3. -- ACCOUNTS

    Paragraph 3 gives detailed rules concerning the keeping of an account for each internee. The Detaining Power is responsible for this, and no other authority. The Internee Committees mentioned in Article 102 have rights in the matter and since wartime legislation will usually deprive the internees of certain facilities which they would have in normal times (2), it is desirable that the Detaining Power should, as it were, take the place of a bank, so far as the keeping of their accounts is concerned.
    The various items on the credit side of the account are those defined in the preceding Articles and in paragraph 2 of Article 98: wages for any work done (Article 95 ), sums of money taken away at the time of internment and entered on a detailed receipt kept by the internee concerned (Article 97 ), allowances and income. On the debit side there are the withdrawals made by the internee for his personal expenses or the maintenance of his family, within the limits prescribed by wartime legislation.
    It may be mentioned in this connection that in this Convention there is no provision corresponding to Article 63 of the Prisoners of War Convention, which envisages the possibility of funds being transferred abroad to keep people who are dependent on those in captivity. The reason is that a civilian internee is, with certain exceptions, normally settled in the country where he is detained and that it is, consequently, in that same country that his obligations in regard to the maintenance of dependants must lie.
    It is for the internee himself to verify that his account is being properly kept -- as he would do when dealing with a bank -- provided that his requests in this connection remain within "reasonable" limits: the facilities granted for this purpose should not be made a pretext for demands which might unduly complicate the task of the [p.428] Detaining Power. Nevertheless, to ensure that the interests of the internees are not prejudiced, the Protecting Power is also authorized to inspect the account, and the internee is always entitled to approach the Protecting Power under the terms of Article 101 .
    Finally, wartime circumstances may make it necessary for internees to be transferred. In that case it may be difficult for the Detaining Power to keep the accounts. Nevertheless continuity in this financial stewardship is of such importance for every internee that the Convention is careful to stipulate that a statement of account shall accompany the internee in case of transfer. The Detaining Power is thus wholly responsible and the internee is entitled to compensation if his account is lost or inaccurately kept.


    Notes: (1) [(1) p.426] This does not necessarily mean that the Power
    of Origin is bound to pay allowances to all internees,
    whether they need them or not. The situation here is
    different from that described in paragraph 1 in regard to
    allowances;

    (2) [(1) p.427] With the exception of those which may be
    granted them specifically for the management of their
    property. See the commentary on Article 114;