Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
Treaties and Documents
Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocols, and their Commentaries
Historical Treaties and Documents
Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
. -- TRANSFER OF FUNDS
[p.319] During the Second World War many prisoners of war were able to send money regularly to their next of kin. These transfers sometimes gave rise to complaints, however, because of the arbitrary rate of exchange fixed by States either on the basis of special agreements, or in application of their monetary policy (1).
Despite the explicit provisions contained in Article 38
of the 1929 Convention, war-time restrictions on transfers of capital generally prevented prisoners of war from receiving money (2).
PARAGRAPH 1. -- PERMISSION TO RECEIVE MONEY
Prisoners of war may receive remittances of money in accordance with Article 61
, which requires the Detaining Power to accept as supplementary pay to prisoners of war sums that the Power on which they depend may forward to them.
The present provision is broader in scope. It sets forth the general principle that the Detaining Power must accept remittances of money addressed to prisoners of war individually or collectively. At the same time it does not impede the application of Article 58
, which limits the amount of money that prisoners may have in their possession, or any other administrative measures which the Detaining Power [p.320] may take in order to restrict the purchasing facilities of prisoners of war. Lastly, the rate of exchange will depend solely on the internal monetary policy of the Detaining Power.
This provision only lays an obligation on the Detaining Power; the Power on which prisoners depend remains absolutely free to prohibit such transfers if it thinks fit to do so for domestic reasons.
PARAGRAPH 2. -- PAYMENTS
1. ' First sentence. -- Right of the prisoner of war to make use
of the credit balance of his account '
This possibility is understandably limited, when it does not involve meeting the normal requirements of prisoners through purchases in the canteens, but the transfer of funds outside the camp. In the latter case, the transfer might be either to the territory of the Detaining Power or to another country. The second sentence of the present paragraph refers particularly to the latter possibility.
As a general rule, funds may be transferred within the territory of the Detaining Power, and that Power must make the payments requested. It may limit such payments, however, since it obviously could not accord to prisoners of war interned on its territory economic and financial facilities which are not available to its own nationals.
Purchases can generally be made outside the camp only with money saved from the working pay and the advance of pay (3). On this limited basis, the restrictions imposed by the Detaining Power must therefore not be more severe in the case of prisoners of war than in the case of the civilian population; the kind of transaction might be restricted (articles which are prohibited or under quota) but prisoners of war must be free to make use of their credit balance.
Payment will be made by the Detaining Power, that is to say by the camp administration, at the request of the prisoner, as provided by the present Convention.
2. ' Second and third sentences. -- Payments abroad '
The outstanding feature of the present provision is that it permits payments to be made abroad, but it is also in this connection that the principal difficulties arise. If prisoners are to be able to make payments [p.321] outside the territory of the Detaining Power, the implication is that that Power must purchase foreign exchange for the benefit of citizens of enemy countries, and this will not easily be accepted (4). The obligation for the Detaining Power is therefore "subject to financial or monetary restrictions" which it "regards as essential". In practice, this exception is so broad in scope that it could bring to a halt all transfers of funds abroad. The drafters of the Convention therefore provided another procedure, in paragraph 3 of the present Article -- a delegation of pay; under this arrangement the Power of origin makes payment on its territory to the beneficiaries of the amounts requested by the prisoners of war.
PARAGRAPH 3. -- DELEGATION OF PAY
This method was recommended by the Conference of Government Experts (5). It is based on the system of the bill of exchange, as established by the Convention providing a Uniform Law for Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes, signed at Geneva on June 7, 1930. The system is briefly as follows: the Detaining Power will forward to the Power on which the prisoners depend a notification signed by the prisoner and countersigned by the camp commander (the details to be included in the notification are specified in Model Regulations annexed to the Convention, Annex V); this notification specifies the amount to be paid and the name and address of the payee. Payment is made by the Power receiving the notification and the Detaining Power will debit the prisoner's account by a corresponding amount; the sums thus debited will be placed to the credit of the Power to which the notification was addressed.
This arrangement is obviously subject to the consent of the Power of origin which may also, if it wishes, extend to this notice of payment one or more of the other characteristics of a bill of exchange.
The application of any such system by the belligerents is, however, dependent on complete respect, in all circumstances and in every detail, of the provisions of Article 67
concerning compensation arrangements after the end of hostilities.
[p.322] PARAGRAPH 4. -- MODEL REGULATIONS
These Regulations contain a certain number of specific conditions intended to afford all desirable safeguards in connection with the procedure for delegation of pay; it is recommended that the States party to the Convention should respect these conditions when drawing up the notification referred to in paragraph 3. The Model Regulations are not mandatory for the States, however; they are merely by way of an outline intended to be of assistance in the absence of any other agreement.
* (1) [(1) p.319] Especially after the end of hostilities on the
Western front, in May 1945;
(2) [(2) p.319] See ' Report of the International Committee of
the Red Cross on its activities during the Second World
War, ' Vol. I, pp. 289-291;
(3) [(1) p.320] Because of monetary restrictions, to which
reference has already been made, the possibility of the
transfer of large amounts from the country of origin may
(4) [(1) p.321] See ' Final Record of the Diplomatic
Conference of Geneva of 1949, ' Vol. II-A, p. 281;
(5) [(2) p.321] See ' Report on the Work of the Conference of
Government Experts, ' p. 163;