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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.
[p.257] ARTICLE 48
. -- PROCEDURE FOR TRANSFER
PARAGRAPH 1. -- NOTIFICATION TO PRISONERS OF WAR
OF THEIR DEPARTURE
For humanitarian reasons, prisoners of war must be given advance notice of their impending transfer (1), so that they may prepare their kit and inform their families. At the Conference of Government Experts, the International Committee of the Red Cross suggested that prisoners should be so informed at least twenty-four hours before their departure.
of the 1929 Convention specified that prisoners of war should be notified of their new destination; for security reasons, some delegations asked that this requirement should be omitted. A compromise was finally reached, that the 1929 text should stand with the substitution of "postal address" for the word "destination". The destination may therefore be indicated by a cipher.
[p.258] PARAGRAPH 2. -- AMOUNT OF BAGGAGE PERMITTED
It is only natural that prisoners of war should try to take with them as much kit as possible, whereas the aim of the Detaining Power is to limit the amount of baggage. In order to avoid difficulties, the Conference of Government Experts approved the proposal of the International Committee of the Red Cross that the weight of the baggage permitted should be specified, and this was adopted without difficulty by the 1949 Diplomatic Conference.
PARAGRAPH 3. -- FORWARDING OF MAIL, PARCELS AND COMMUNITY PROPERTY
No special comments are called for concerning the forwarding of mail and parcels addressed to the former camp; the Detaining Power must make the necessary arrangements.
On the other hand, the prisoners' representative is responsible for the prisoners' community property. This includes consignments of food and medicaments, blankets, training and trade equipment, books, sports equipment, etc., as well as canteen profits. During the Second World War, the Detaining Power usually arranged for community property to be forwarded to the new camp, but in some instances it insisted that such property should be left behind for the use of the new arrivals. Prisoners of war never willingly accepted this ruling, and the authors of the 1949 Convention therefore decided to specify that community property must follow prisoners of war who were transferred.
PARAGRAPH 4. -- COSTS OF TRANSFER
This paragraph needs no comment.
* * *
It seems essential to point out that the Information Bureau set up under Article 122
must be notified immediately of any transfer of prisoners of war. Transfer is one of the changes which, pursuant to paragraph 5 of that Article
, must be communicated to the Information Bureau by the Detaining Power. The Information Bureau should therefore receive the "complete" list of transferred prisoners, drawn up in accordance with Article 46, paragraph 3
* (1) [(1) p.257] The 1929 Convention contained a similar
provision, in Article 26;