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Geneva Convention of 27 July 1929 relative to the treatment of prisoners of war

06-04-1998

The Geneva Convention of 27 July 1929 on the treatment of prisoners of war comprises 97 articles. It lays down the general principle whereby captives must at all times be treated humanely. In particular, they must be protected from acts of violence, insults and public curiosity; in addition, it is forbidden to carry out reprisals against them. 

The Convention gives detailed rules on the following:

  • the conditions in which prisoners should be captured and evacuated;
  • the organization of camps;
  • food and clothing for prisoners;
  • hygiene;
  • religious practice;
  • mental and physical recreation;
  • discipline inside camps;
  • prisoners'financial resources;
  • prison labour;
  • prisoners'mail, including parcels;
  • penal sanctions concerning prisoners of war, and legal proceedings;
  • the repatriation of prisoners of war.

In addition, the Convention provides (Article 79) that:

" A Central Agency of information regarding prisoners of war shall be established in a neutral country. The International Red Cross Committee shall, if they consider it necessary, propose to the Powers concerned the organization of such an agency.

" This agency shall be charged with the duty of collecting all informati on regarding prisoners which they may be able to obtain through official or private channels, and the agency shall transmit the information as rapidly as possible to the prisoners'own country or the Power in whose service they have been.

" These provisions shall not be interpreted as restricting the humanitarian work of the International Red Cross Committee. "

In this article, the Convention entrusts the ICRC with a specific task regarding the forwarding of information on prisoners of war.

Lastly, Article 88 recognizes that the ICRC has a general mandate with respect to the application of the Convention. It was on the basis of this article that the ICRC was to send its delegates to visit prisoner-of-war camps.

The 1929 Convention has since been revised, the updated version being one of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 (Third Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, of 12 August 1949).