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.
. -- PREMISES FOR DISCIPLINARY PUNISHMENTS
PARAGRAPH 1. -- SPECIAL PREMISES
This provision deals only with punishment by confinement since the other disciplinary penalties listed in Article 119
in no way imply the use of special premises.
It is indisputable -- and the Conference of Government Experts recognized this (1) -- that penitentiary establishments very often afford better material conditions than a place of confinement in an internment camp. However, the authors of the Convention considered that detention in such establishments and the consequent mixing with ordinary criminals was an affront to the dignity of the person concerned and was not appropriate in the case of punishments for breaches of discipline (2).
Such punishments must be undergone in a place of internment. There is nothing, however, against transferring an offender from one place of internment to another to undergo his sentence, if the Detaining Power considers that the premises are more suitable there, provided that the guarantees laid down by the Convention are observed.
[p.494] PARAGRAPH 2. -- SANITARY REQUIREMENTS
The obligation to carry out sentences of imprisonment in a place of internment will nearly always raise problems which are quite difficult of solution. The usual method will doubtless be to set aside a hut or part of a hut for the purpose and to fit out a number of cells there. Too often, during the Second World War, cells designed for one or two prisoners were occupied by four or five at the same time (3).
The first drawback of such overcrowding is the danger to health. It is quite clear that in such cases the provisions of Article 85
, which are nevertheless referred to expressly here, will be difficult to observe. The Detaining Power must therefore see that prisoners undergoing imprisonment shall be enabled to keep themselves clean, particularly since inadequate premises may lead the detainees to become careless of cleanliness. Furthermore, the provisions mentioned in paragraph 2 of Article 118
on the need for detainees to have daylight should be remembered. This clause is applicable a fortiori in the case of imprisonment for disciplinary offences.
PARAGRAPH 3. -- WOMEN
This provision should be compared with paragraph 2 of Article 27
which states that "women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour".
Whatever the added difficulty it may entail in arranging for premises for disciplinary punishments, this provision must be scrupulously observed since it is intended to ensure respect for the honour and modesty of women detainees. Moreover, there is nothing to prevent the Detaining Power arranging for women a system of disciplinary detention less harsh than that for men and in less uncomfortable premises.
Notes: (1) [(1) p.493] See ' Report on the Work of the Conference of
Government Experts, ' pp. 218-219;
(2) [(2) p.493] The 1929 Convention relative to the Treatment
of Prisoners of War embodied the same conclusion in
paragraph 1 of Article 56;
(3) [(1) p.494] See M. BRETONNI RE, op. cit. pp. 380-381;