Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
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Commentary of 1958 


Whereas prisoners of war must be provided with clothing, underwear and footwear by the Detaining Power (in accordance with a principle laid down in Article 12 of the 1929 Prisoners of War Convention and reaffirmed in Article 27 of the Third Convention of 1949) (1), civilian internees have to provide their own clothes.
They are generally interned in the country in which they had settled and it would therefore seem possible for them to provide themselves with sufficient clothing when they are arrested, provided they are allowed to do so; and, subject to the same proviso, they should be able to send for anything else they need.
[p.397] Experience has shown, however, that this assumption may not always be realized in practice (2). The Convention accordingly lays down that should they not have sufficient clothing, account being taken of the climate, the Detaining Power is to provide them with it free of charge.


These provisons are connected with Article 27 of the Convention stating that protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons and their honour. It is essential to prevent internees from being forced to wear convicts' uniforms or other uniforms of a similar nature, as was the case in certain concentration camps of hateful memory. The plenipotentiaries were unanimous in 1949 in disapproving of such practices and although paragraph 1 had already, as it were, implied that disapproval, they felt that they should reaffirm it explicitly at this point. It must, indeed, always be remembered that internment is not a punishment and cannot in any way besmirch anyone's honour.


Internees are not obliged to work. Article 95 of the Convention lays down that the Detaining Power shall not employ internees as workers unless they so desire. If they do wish to work, the Detaining Power is obliged to provide them with the necessary working outfit.
The outfit must in particular include suitable boots or shoes and also protective clothing when the work is connected, for example, with navvying in marshy ground or is likely to spoil the personal clothing of the worker. This last clause concerning protective clothing was added to the Stockholm Draft by the Geneva Conference as it was considered in keeping with the general spirit of the Article, according to which an internee must always have a proper suit of clothing in his possession.

Notes: (1) [(3) p.396] This is only reasonable since before their
capture prisoners of war, being servicemen, were clothed
and equipped by the State in whose service they were;

(2) [(1) p.397] In occupied France, in the Compiègne camp for
example (Front-stalag 122), the delegate of the
International Committee of the Red Cross had found that
60% of the internees were without a complete set of
clothing, 90% lacked underclothes and socks and 40 % had
no overcoat. It is true that they had not been given every
facility at the time of their arrest to provide themselves
with the necessary clothing;