Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
Treaties and Documents
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.
[p.385] ARTICLE 85
. -- ACCOMMODATION. -- HYGIENE
This long Article repeats, for the benefit of civilian internees, the same provisions as those contained in Articles 22
of the Prisoners of War Convention.
However, there are two slight differences characteristic of civilian internment. In the first place, it is stated that accommodation and sanitary conditions must be satisfactory from the outset of internment, whereas the provisions relating to prisoners of war tacitly admit that some time is necessary in certain cases to fulfil the conditions laid down. This is because the number of internees is in general very [p.386] much less than the number of prisoners of war (1). Their number is in any case always known in advance and it is therefore easy to plan their accommodation at the same time as deciding to intern them.
In the second place, it should be noted that the bedding and the number of blankets supplied should take into account the age, sex and state of health of the internees. This provision has no equivalent in the Prisoners of War Convention, since prisoners are all by definition fit for service in the forces and it is therefore unnecessary to make the same distinctions between them (2).
Apart from these two exceptions all the provisions applicable to prisoners of war in the matter of accommodation and hygiene are reproduced in the Civilians Convention. As in the case of all provisions dealing with the status of internees, supervision is ensured through the visits and activities of representatives of the Protecting Power or delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (Article 143
PARAGRAPH 1. -- HYGIENE AND HEALTH
Could the term "buildings or quarters which afford every possible safeguard as regards hygiene and health, and provide efficient protection against the rigours of the climate and the effects of the war" be taken to mean camps made up of tents? This practice is allowed in the case of prisoners of war where the Detaining Powers follow the same procedure for their own troops. During the Second World War it proved satisfactory in certain climates when some essential improvements had been carried out (cement floors, brick walls, stone paths and access roads) (3). The same latitude, however, could hardly be granted with regard to civilian internees and it seems clear that "buildings or quarters" must be taken to mean structures of a permanent character.
The term "unhealthy areas or districts the climate of which is injurious to the internees" refers to areas unsuitable for human habitation in general. It is, however, possible that a site acceptable for persons of average physical strength might be dangerous for other persons. In such cases, the medical examinations mentioned in Article 92
will reveal the inability of the internee to bear the physical [p.387] conditions of his internment, and individual measures will be recommended to the detaining authorities, which would be obliged to put them into effect as soon as possible.
PARAGRAPH 2. -- SLEEPING QUARTERS
The text of this paragraph is modelled on that of paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 25
of the Third Convention. That is why the statement that premises "shall be... lighted, in particular between dusk and lights out" has been retained. This item was recommended by the Government Experts in the case of prisoners of war, so that they could take advantage of the only leisure time they had available after a day's work. It should be noted, however, that the provision must not clash with the black-out regulations applicable to the population as a whole (4).
PARAGRAPH 3. -- SANITARY CONVENIENCES
The term "sanitary conveniences" should be taken to mean primarily the latrines, in conformity with the similar provision contained in paragraph 2 of Article 29
of the Third Convention. These conveniences should be so constructed as to preserve decency and cleanliness and must be sufficiently numerous. They should be inspected periodically by the health authorities.
During the Second World War prisoners of war were sometimes forbidden to leave their quarters during the night (5). The Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, like the Prisoners of War Convention, stipulates that internees should have sanitary conveniences for their use day and night.
The Government Experts had wished to lay down definitely the frequency with which baths could be taken (6). This idea was not accepted, but one bath or shower per week can be considered reasonable.
With regard to the washing of clothes, the International Committee of the Red Cross advocated, during the Second World War, the establishment of collective laundries in prisoner-of-war camps. Experience showed, however, that prisoners preferred to launder their own clothes. The same facility has been granted to civilian internees.
[p.388] PARAGRAPH 4. -- SPECIAL PROVISIONS CONCERNING WOMEN
This text corresponds to paragraph 4 of Article 25
of the Prisoners of War Convention. In the Second World War a great number of women served in the armed forces and the Diplomatic Conference therefore considered it necessary to develop the principle already set forth in Article 3
of the 1929 Convention and to include more details with regard to women prisoners. The same applies to women civilian internees. This paragraph is a case of a particular application of the general principle laid down in Article 27, paragraph 2
, concerning the respect due to women's honour.
Notes: (1) [(1) p.386] On occasions whole armies have been captured
or have surrendered at the same time and the same place;
(2) [(2) p.386] However, Article 3 of the 1929 Geneva
Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War
states that "women shall be treated with all consideration
due to their sex";
(3) [(3) p.386] See ' Report on the Work of the Conference of
Government Experts, ' pp. 135-136;
(4) [(1) p.387] See ' Report on the Work of the Conference of
Government Experts, ' pp. 135-136;
(5) [(2) p.387] See ' Report of the International Committee of
the Red Cross on its activities during the Second World
War ', Vol. I, p. 263;
(6) [(3) p.387] See ' Report on the Work of the Conference of
Government Experts, ' pp. 144-145;