Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
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Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocols, and their Commentaries
Historical Treaties and Documents
Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
. -- ASSIGNED RESIDENCE. INTERNMENT (1)
The three Articles in this section which deal with internment specify the circumstances under which belligerents are entitled to resort to that measure and also give details of the procedure to be adopted, but do not lay down the conditions in which the internee is to live. This last point is the subject of Section IV of the Convention, the whole of which is devoted to the question of internees' treatment and, as will be seen, includes regulations just as detailed as those contained in the Third Geneva Convention in the case of prisoners of war.
These three Articles apply solely to protected persons as defined in Article 4
of the Convention. They do not therefore govern the relations [p.256] of citizens of a country with their own Government; such persons are not covered by the Convention (2), except for the provisions of Part II.
PARAGRAPH 1. -- GENERAL PRINCIPLE
Earlier Articles referred to "measures of control" without giving any further details; the present text picks out two of them -- assigned residence and internment -- as being the most severe to which the detaining State may resort when other measures have proved inadequate.
The object of assigned residence is to move certain people from their domicile and force them to live, as long as the circumstances motivating such action continue to exist, in a locality which is generally out of the way and where supervision is more easily exercised. In that respect it differs from "being placed under surveillance" which was the idea referred to in the International Committee's draft and is a form of supervision which allows the person concerned to remain in his usual place of residence.
Internment is also a form of assigned residence, since internees are detained in a place other than their normal place of residence. Internment is the more severe, however, as it generally implies an obligation to live in a camp with other internees.
It must not be forgotten, however, that the terms "assigned residence" and "internment" may be differently interpreted in the law of different countries. As a general rule, assigned residence is a less serious measure than internment.
The end of the paragraph lays down that belligerents cannot place protected persons in assigned residence or intern them except in accordance with the limits and conditions set by Articles 42
, which set forth a number of safeguards in favour of protected persons.
Finally, it should be pointed out that the Diplomatic Conference discussed at great length whether the provision should be amended to state that any decision concerning assigned residence or internment "should be taken individually". The proposal was rejected, on the ground that there might be situations -- a threat of invasion for example -- which would force a government to act without delay to prevent hostile acts, and to take measures against certain categories without always finding it possible to consider individual cases. The safeguards provided in Article 43
seem adequate to reduce the risk of arbitrary decisions (3).
[p.257] PARAGRAPH 2. -- STATUS OF PERSONS PLACED IN ASSIGNED
Whereas internment forms the subject of carefully framed regulations, comprising over sixty Articles, there is nothing of the sort in the case of assigned residence. There might therefore be reason to fear that an unscrupulous government might prefer to resort to this measure in order to avoid the obligations imposed upon it by internment.
This paragraph is intended to dispel such fears (4), while at the same time taking into account the difference between an internment camp and assigned residence; it merely requires the State of residence to continue to have regard for the welfare of persons placed in assigned residence, in particular in connection with accommodation, food, clothes, hygiene, medical care and financial resources.
Notes: (1) [(1) p.255] For the discussions leading up to this
Article, see ' Final Record, ' Vol. I, p. 120; Vol. II-A,
pp. 658, 756-757, 808-809; Vol. II-B, p. 411;
(2) [(1) p.256] See pp. 46 and 372;
(3) [(2) p.256] See ' Final Record, ' Vol. II-A, pp. 658 and
808-809; Vol. II-B, p. 411 and Vol. III, pp. 126-127;
(4) [(1) p.257] See ' Final Record of the Diplomatic
Conference of Geneva of 1949, ' Vol. III, p. 126;