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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.
. -- EXECUTION OF PENALTIES
PARAGRAPH 1. -- ASSIMILATION ACCORDING TO RANK
Since prisoners of war are subject to the same laws as members of the armed forces of the Detaining Power, it was logical to provide that they should serve their sentence in the same conditions. This is stated in the present paragraph, which thus reproduces the idea contained in Article 46, paragraph 1
, of the 1929 Convention. Unlike the latter, however, the new text refers not only to disciplinary punishment but also to penal sanctions (1).
Prisoners of war may not be subjected to treatment more severe than that applied to members of the armed forces of the Detaining Power; nowhere is it stated, however, that they may not enjoy better [p.434] treatment, and that was sometimes the case during the Second World War, particularly as regards non-commissioned officers and men (2).
The application of this provision obviously implies that prisoners of war give the information listed in Article 17, paragraph 1
, at the time of capture; if they do not do so, they are liable to be deprived of the benefits of the present rule, pursuant to paragraph 2 of Article 17
PARAGRAPH 2. -- WOMEN PRISONERS OF WAR
This provision, which is new, was introduced by the 1949 Diplomatic Conference (3). As regards the execution of penalties, it corresponds to the rule contained in paragraph 1 of the present Article, except that no mention is made of varying treatment according to rank. Obviously, however, if a distinction of this kind is made in the detaining country among women members of the armed forces, the same rules will be applicable to women prisoners of war pursuant to the general principle of assimilation stated in Article 82, paragraph 1
PARAGRAPH 3. -- MINIMUM SAFEGUARDS FOR WOMEN
PRISONERS OF WAR
This is also a new provision, and affords a safeguard which corresponds to the principles of civilized nations.
PARAGRAPH 4. -- TREATMENT AFTER EXECUTION OF PENALTY
Once their sentence has been served, prisoners of war must be fully restored to the status which they enjoyed before conviction. In accordance with law and equity, the Detaining Power should take this attitude, but in view of the experience of the First World War (4), a specific provision on the subject was inserted in the 1929 Convention (Article 49, paragraph 1
) and is reproduced in the present paragraph.
A reservation must be made, however, in regard to prisoners of war who are recaptured after attempting to escape. In such cases, Article 92, paragraph 3
, provides a specific exception to the present Article (5).
* (1) [(2) p.433] See ' Report on the Work of the Conference of
Government Experts, ' p. 207;
(2) [(1) p.434] See BRETONNI RE, op. cit., pp. 306-307;
(3) [(2) p.434] See ' Final Record of the Diplomatic
Conference of Geneva of 1949, ' Vol. II-A, p. 305;
(4) [(3) p.434] See SCHEIDL: op. cit., pp. 439-440;
(5) [(4) p.434] See below, the commentary on Article 92,