Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
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Commentary of 1958 

    The importance of this Article should be emphasized. It corresponds to Article 16 of the Tokyo Draft, which restricts itself to stating that civilian internment camps should be separate from internment camps for prisoners of war, in accordance with the fundamental distinction in humanitarian law between combatants and non-combatants. As suggested by the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Stockholm Draft, the Diplomatic Conference of 1949 went further and accepted the idea that political prisoners should be kept separate from offenders against ordinary law. It is a matter of congratulation that this principle has been proclaimed (1).
    The result is that neither prisons nor penal establishments could be used as places of internment.
    This provision shows once more that the detention of internees is quite different in character from that of prisoners of war or common criminals. Internment is simply a precautionary measure and should not be confused with the penalty of imprisonment.

    Notes: (1) [(1) p.384] This idea should be kept in sight for the
    development of humanitarian law. Obviously, in view of
    what was said in the commentary on Article 79, no
    provision of this Convention can be applied directly or by
    analogy to the relations between a government and those of
    its nationals interned for political. reasons, so long as
    in the country in question no struggle is taking place
    which would enable the application of the provisions of
    Article 3 concerning civil wars. But, as Professor
    Castberg, a member of the Norwegian delegation to the
    Diplomatic Conference pointed out, quoting a legal opinion
    which the Norwegian Red Cross had communicated to the
    International Committee of the Red Cross, there is reason
    to hope that every Power bound by the Convention and
    pledged to apply, in conformity with international law,
    certain well defined and deeply humanitarian measures for
    the treatment of prisoners of enemy nationality, will wish
    to treat its own citizens, interned for security reasons,
    in exactly the same way. This would be an extra-judicial
    consequence of Article 84, and could bring about an
    evolution in some aspects of municipal law in accordance
    with the same humanitarian principles as those which have
    led to this development of international law;