National Implementation of IHL
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Krofan Stanislaus v. Public Prosecutor, Federal Court, 5 October 1966
Federal Court
[1967] 1 Malayan L.J. 133;  52 I.L.R. 497 (1979).

On 14 April 1965, the appellants entered Singapore from nearby Indonesian islands carrying explosives. When caught, they claimed they were members of the Indonesian armed forces and had been ordered by their superiors to detonate the explosives in Singapore, although they were wearing civilian clothing. At the time, there was an armed conflict within the meaning of the Geneva Conventions between Indonesia and Malaysia, of which Singapore was then a part. At the trial, which took place after Singapore had seceded from Malaysia, the accused were convicted and sentenced for carrying explosives without lawful authority in a security area. On appeal, the Federal Court examined two main questions: whether or not the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of prisoners of war was part of the domestic law of Singapore at the time the offence was committed, and whether or not the appellants were prisoners of war within the meaning of the Convention.

Status of the 1949 Geneva Convention

Although both the UK and the Federation of Malaya had ratified the Geneva Conventions and adopted implementing legislation at the time Singapore became part of Malaysia, the scope of those acts had not been expressly extended to Singapore. The Court declined to decide whether the Geneva Conventions were part of Singapore domestic law, but decided to proceed on the assumption that the Conventions were applicable to Singapore at all material times.

Prisoner-of-war status of the appellants

By analogy with the status of spies under the 1907 Hague Regulations, which it considered to be customary law, the Court held that "a regular combatant who chooses to divest himself of his most distinctive characteristic, his uniform, for the purpose of spying or of sabotage thereby forfeits his right on capture to be treated ... as a prisoner of war”. Thus, a trial under the Detaining Power's domestic law can take place in camera, no Protecting Power need be notified and there is no right of communication under Article 107 of the Third Geneva Convention. However, the combatant must be treated with humanity and afforded a fair and regular trial.

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