Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
  • Print page
Commentary of 2020 
Article 38 : Intellectual, educational and recreational pursuits, sports and games
Text of the provision*
(1) While respecting the individual preferences of every prisoner, the Detaining Power shall encourage the practice of intellectual, educational, and recreational pursuits, sports and games amongst prisoners, and shall take the measures necessary to ensure the exercise thereof by providing them with adequate premises and necessary equipment.
(2) Prisoners shall have opportunities for taking physical exercise, including sports and games, and for being out of doors. Sufficient open spaces shall be provided for this purpose in all camps.
* Paragraph numbers have been added for ease of reference.
Reservations or declarations
None
Contents

A. Introduction
2444  Article 38 formulates duties for the Detaining Power and entitlements for prisoners of war that aim to foster their physical and mental well-being. Captivity may take a great toll not only on the physical health of prisoners of war but also on their morale and mental health, especially in the case of prolonged internment.[1] It is therefore essential that prisoners of war have time for and access to the purposeful activities set out in this provision.
2445  To this end, Article 38(1) requires the Detaining Power to encourage prisoners of war to practise intellectual, educational and recreational pursuits, sports and games, while emphasizing that Detaining Powers must respect the individual preferences of prisoners and may not force them to participate in such activities. The Detaining Power must also ensure that ‘adequate premises and necessary equipment’ for this purpose are available. Article 38(2) requires the Detaining Power to enable prisoners to benefit from exercise and being in the open air.
2446  This provision reflects the humanitarian concerns underlying the Convention, and in particular the requirement of humane treatment set out in Article 13 and the requirement to respect the persons and honour of prisoners under Article 14. It promotes prisoners’ well-being by ensuring they have the means at their disposal to alleviate the hardships caused by their internment. At the same time, it serves the interests of the Detaining Power as keeping prisoners occupied with purposeful activities can contribute to camp order and discipline.
Back to top
B. Historical background
2447  The intellectual and recreational needs of prisoners of war were taken into consideration for the first time in two separate provisions of the 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War.[2] Those provisions were subsequently brought together in the two paragraphs of Article 38 of the Third Convention.[3]
2448  While no discussion took place at the Diplomatic Conference in 1949 on the substance of what became the second paragraph of Article 38, several adjustments were proposed in relation to the first paragraph.[4] As a result of the debates preceding the adoption of the Third Convention, Article 38(1) goes further than its precursor in three respects. First, the drafters inserted a clause, ‘[w]hile respecting the individual preferences of every prisoner’, to prevent Detaining Powers from requiring prisoners to participate in propaganda activities under the guise of intellectual or recreational activities.[5] Second, the list of activities that prisoners of war were entitled to undertake was extended to include educational and recreational pursuits and games, in addition to intellectual activities and sports. Lastly, Article 38 explicitly imposes affirmative duties on Detaining Powers (‘shall encourage’, ‘shall take the measures necessary’ and ‘shall be provided’).
Back to top
C. Paragraph 1: Intellectual, educational and recreational pursuits, sports and games
1. Respect for the individual preferences of prisoners of war
2449  Article 38(1) sets down the obligations of the Detaining Power to encourage prisoners of war in its charge to engage in intellectual, educational and recreational pursuits, sports and games and to provide them with the necessary facilities and equipment. Article 17 of the 1929 Convention did not contain a clause limiting the Detaining Power’s actions, and so, in the past, this provision was used as a pretext to oblige prisoners of war to take part in activities conveying ideological or political messages.[6] This was the case, for example, during the Second World War, when the ICRC intervened on several occasions to halt propaganda activities being imposed on prisoners of war.[7] Based on this experience, the ICRC proposed inserting a clause in Article 38 to preserve prisoners’ choice whether to participate in such activities.[8]
2450  Thus, Article 38 opens with the phrase, ‘[w]hile respecting the individual preferences of every prisoner’, to ensure that prisoners of war are not being obliged to participate in indoctrination programmes under the guise of educational, intellectual, recreational or physical pursuits. This wording is not to be understood as suggesting that prisoners must choose an activity among the ones offered in a camp, but rather that they are free also not to participate in an activity. To avoid any risk of misinterpretation, the ICRC proposed replacing the current wording with the expression, ‘[w]hilst leaving prisoners of war free to take part in them or not’.[9] Even though this proposal was not retained, prisoners of war remain free to decide whether to engage in an activity given that the provision refers to the ‘individual preferences of every prisoner’ and limits the obligation on the Detaining Power to one of encouragement. In this light, it would be contrary to the Convention, for example, to broadcast propaganda over loudspeakers,[10] to make attendance at movie screenings compulsory or to punish those who do not wish to participate in leisure activities.[11]
2451  It follows that indoctrination activities are contrary to the Convention when they are forced on prisoners of war, as that practice would amount to a violation of Article 38. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, for example, found Ethiopia in breach of Article 38 for subjecting Eritrean prisoners of war to enforced indoctrination programmes.[12] Indoctrination may also take the form of so-called ‘deradicalization’ efforts, defined as the practice of encouraging those with extreme and violent religious or political ideologies to adopt more moderate views.[13] Such efforts would be prohibited if they were compulsory.[14]
2452  Propaganda activities also violate the Convention when, even though the detaining authorities leave prisoners free to choose whether to participate, privileges are granted to those who decide to take part, as this would be inconsistent with the obligation of equal treatment.[15] Propaganda activities may also violate the requirement of respect for the honour and persons of prisoners.[16]
2453  Nevertheless, a Detaining Power may, in limited cases, segregate prisoners of war for security reasons.[17] Provided equality of treatment between segregated groups is maintained, including not withholding or granting privileges based on which group a prisoner belongs to,[18] a Detaining Power would be entitled to separate those who are voluntarily undergoing, or have undergone, a deradicalization programme from those who choose not to participate. Segregation of individuals should not result in solitary confinement.[19]
Back to top
2. Specifically listed activities
2454  The drafters of the Third Convention expressly enumerated certain categories of activities which they considered essential for the well-being of prisoners of war. Article 38 refers to intellectual, educational and recreational pursuits, sports and games. The activities that might fall into these categories are not specified or predetermined, and the question of how exactly to implement the obligation is left to the Detaining Power. Furthermore, the list of such specific activities may be long and subject to evolution. What constitutes intellectual, educational and recreational pursuits, sports and games might also vary according to, for example, a person’s age, health, disability or background. For example, advances in technology may offer new possibilities for study and recreation by prisoners of war compared with what was available when the Conventions were adopted.
Back to top
a. Intellectual pursuits
2455  During the Second World War, the benefits of intellectual activities for the well-being of prisoners of war led, at the suggestion of the German Government and the British Red Cross, to the establishment of the Advisory Committee on Reading Matter for Prisoners. The Committee, presided over by the ICRC, coordinated the allocation of books by six organizations in order to render access to intellectual material possible for the largest number of prisoners.[20] Still today, an important intellectual activity for prisoners of war consists in having access to books, newspapers and magazines. Reading material in a language that the prisoners understand should be put at their disposal in camps through libraries or reading rooms or, if close confinement is resorted to, made available in the prisoner’s own cell.[21] Television, radio and electronic sources of information may also be provided. The Detaining Power would, however, be entitled to take such measures as are necessary to address reasonable security concerns, for especially with internet access.
2456  Particularly relevant to the intellectual well-being of prisoners of war is access to news of the outside world, which can help to minimize their sense of isolation. In conflicts that have taken place since the adoption of the Third Convention, prisoners of war have had access to news, for example through oral reports by camp authorities, radio, newspapers and sometimes television.[22] It should be recalled, however, that the Detaining Power may not use the sharing of news as a means to indoctrinate prisoners of war.
2457  To take account of security concerns, the Detaining Power may impose controls on the flow of information in the detention facility. By way of example, prisoners could be given outside news through newsletters posted in the camps. When possible, however, external channels of information should be allowed. In this case, news on topics that raise security concerns could be limited by pre-selecting newspapers, magazines and electronic news, screening or deleting content, or by broadcasting recorded news programmes that have been screened in advance. Importantly, news should be made available in a language that the prisoners understand. When conditions permit, prisoners of war may also be allowed to produce their own camp newspapers.
Back to top
b. Educational pursuits
2458  In addition to helping keep up the morale of prisoners of war, educational activities may ease their return to civilian life after their release. The longer the conflict lasts, the more important educational pursuits become.[23] However, since it is not clear at the outset how long the conflict will last, educational opportunities should be offered as soon as feasible.
2459  Where provided, educational programmes must be available to all prisoners without discrimination.[24] Classes may be offered at different levels and may cover subjects such as maths, languages, economics, law and geography. They could also take the form of skills or vocational training, such as gardening, cooking, tailoring, painting and carpentry.
2460  Detaining Powers may turn to qualified prisoners of war to conduct classes within the camp. To broaden access to educational programmes, prisoners of war may also be allowed to take part in distance-learning or online/offline courses or seek parole to attend classes outside the camp, where the reasonable security concerns of the Detaining Power can be appropriately addressed.[25] They may also employ modern teaching aids, such as television, DVDs, CDs and the internet, which prisoners may use for self-study.
2461  In recent international armed conflicts, prisoners of war have been allowed to attend lessons in, among other subjects, reading, writing and languages.[26] Where the Detaining Power did not or could not provide the necessary equipment, the ICRC was usually allowed to do so, supplying notebooks and writing materials, as well as textbooks and other books, subject to the Detaining Power’s approval. In many cases, prisoners of war also had access to libraries stocked with books, newspapers and magazines by both the Detaining Power and the ICRC.[27]
Back to top
c. Recreational pursuits
2462  The broad nature of this category invites Detaining Powers to encourage recreational activities that can contribute to the well-being of prisoners and that are viable in camp conditions.
2463  Examples of such activities that have been permitted during international armed conflicts since the Second World War include painting, engraving, theatre, dancing, singing and playing musical instruments, with the materials needed often provided by the Detaining Power.[28] Other examples from past conflicts include the screening of movies[29] and gardening.[30] Other activities such as yoga or meditation could be allowed as well, as they contribute to physical and mental well-being.
Back to top
d. Sports and games
2464  Besides the health benefits of physical exercise, participating in sports activities helps prisoners to create bonds and socialize. In international armed conflicts since the Second World War, prisoners of war have generally been allowed to pursue a variety of sports, including gymnastics, volleyball, football, basketball, table tennis and hockey. Suitable spaces for such sports, such as open areas, fields and courts, were usually provided. Where the Detaining Powers did not or could not provide sporting equipment, the ICRC was often permitted to do so.[31]
2465  The Detaining Power can also promote sporting activities by organizing or supporting the organization of tournaments. These may involve prisoners of war from different countries, whenever conditions in the camp permit. Prisoners were sometimes encouraged to take part in competitions through the awarding of prizes.[32]
2466  Games, too, can improve prisoners’ morale and mental well-being. Examples of games that prisoners of war in international armed conflicts since the Second World War have been allowed to play include chess, cards and dominoes. Equipment was sometimes provided by the Detaining Power or the ICRC, or in some cases items such as packs of cards could be bought in the canteen. It has happened that certain games, such as those involving gambling, have conflicted with the Detaining Power’s rules on order and discipline; in those cases, other games were allowed.
Back to top
3. Obligations of the Detaining Power
2467  Article 38 imposes two obligations on the Detaining Power, namely to encourage intellectual, educational and recreational pursuits, sports and games and to take the measures necessary to ensure these can be exercised. The provision is therefore an innovation on Article 17 of the 1929 Convention, which only required the detaining authorities to ‘encourage as much as possible the organization of intellectual and sporting pursuits by the prisoners of war’ (emphasis added).
2468  The first obligation, to encourage intellectual, educational and recreational pursuits, sports and games, includes, at a minimum, allowing activities organized by relief agencies or by the prisoners themselves to take place, subject to respect for camp regulations.[33] Prisoners’ representatives are often the ones who coordinate these activities since one of their duties is to further the physical and intellectual well-being of prisoners.[34] Moreover, representatives of relief agencies are entitled to visit detainees to, among other things, assist them in the organization of their leisure time.[35]
2469  The obligation to ‘encourage’, however, encompasses more than merely allowing activities organized by relief agencies or the prisoners to take place. According to the ordinary meaning of the term, it also means that the Detaining Power must give support to and help or stimulate the practice of the purposeful activities mentioned in the article.[36] The 1929 Convention was ‘too vague on this point and allowed the DP [Detaining Power] to adopt a passive attitude towards these essential activities’.[37] The decision not to reiterate in the text of Article 38 the words ‘organized by prisoners of war’ contained in Article 17 of the 1929 Convention indicates that the obligation of the detaining authorities no longer depends solely on the prisoners’ initiative.[38] Consequently, Detaining Powers should, on their own initiative, encourage intellectual, educational and recreational activities, sports and games for the prisoners of war in their charge.
2470  The second obligation in respect of these activities, which Article 38 imposes for the first time on the Detaining Power, is to provide prisoners of war with ‘adequate premises’ (e.g. reading rooms, spaces to attend classes, recreational yards, football and volleyball courts, etc.) and the ‘necessary equipment’ (e.g. books, notepads, art supplies, televisions, musical instruments, sports gear, etc.). Detaining authorities must therefore, at a minimum, provide prisoners of war with the equipment and facilities that are indispensable for participating in the relevant pursuits, subject to camp regulations. Even though prisoners of war can purchase some of the materials with their own money,[39] or receive them through individual or collective shipments from relief agencies, families or private donors,[40] Detaining Powers are not relieved of their obligation in this regard.[41]
2471  The obligation to provide ‘adequate premises’ and ‘necessary equipment’ also implies that the Detaining Power has to take the specific situation of each prisoner into account, including their background, gender, disability, age and health. For example, depending on cultural or religious backgrounds, the practice of certain sports or games may require women and men to be given separate facilities as these would constitute ‘adequate premises’ in such a situation.[42] Another example would be prisoners with disabilities, who must have opportunities to engage in purposeful activities, in accordance with Article 38, while respecting their individual preferences, and be provided with ‘adequate premises’ and the ‘necessary equipment’ to do so.
2472  Although the suppression of intellectual, educational and recreational activities, sports and games and the denial of premises and equipment would not, by itself, amount to a war crime, they may seriously affect the physical and mental well-being of the prisoners. Depending on the circumstances, such violations of Article 38 might, in combination with other violations, amount to the grave breach of inhuman treatment.[43] The ‘complete lack of any form of recreation for prisoners’ has been held to be a ‘serious breach’ of the Convention.[44]
Back to top
D. Paragraph 2: Physical exercise and being outdoors
2473  Article 38(2) aims to enhance the well-being of prisoners of war through access to physical exercise and the outdoors.[45] The term ‘exercise’ means ‘activities carried out for the sake of health and fitness’, such as team sports, running and walking.[46] Physical activities should never be used by the detaining authorities as a means of harassing prisoners or inflicting inhuman treatment on them. The ICRC has observed, for example, one situation in which prisoners were forced to run laps around the camp courtyard until they collapsed from exhaustion.[47] This goes beyond the limits of the present provision and may also amount to a violation of Article 13.
2474  Detaining Powers are under the obligation to provide prisoners of war with the opportunity, which includes the necessary time and space, to exercise and spend time outdoors. In particular, prisoners of war are entitled to ‘sufficient’ open spaces for those activities. This means that the number of prisoners who are present in a camp should be taken into account when allocating open spaces.[48]
2475  The obligations detailed in Article 38(2) in relation to sports and games must be read in conjunction with the ones listed in the first paragraph of the provision. Therefore, Detaining Powers are under an obligation not only to ensure that prisoners of war have the time and the open space to exercise, but also to encourage those activities and to ensure that they have adequate premises and the necessary equipment to engage in those activities.
2476  The amount of time that prisoners of war should be allowed to spend outdoors is not specified in Article 38. However, considering that prisoners of war undergoing disciplinary punishment are entitled to a minimum of two hours a day of outdoor activity and exercise,[49] it can be deduced that prisoners not subjected to such measures should be entitled to no less than that.[50] In addition, prisoners of war serving a judicial sentence are entitled ‘to take regular exercise in the open air’.[51]
2477  Time spent outdoors should preferably be divided into several periods within the day and should take place as soon as possible after the first day of internment. The entitlement to outdoor activities cannot be denied even to prisoners of war who are confined awaiting trial or who have been convicted of an offence.[52] Air conditioning or heating, as the case may be, is no substitute for access to the open air. The Detaining Power may not use the provision as a pretext to subject prisoners of war to time out of doors in inclement weather.
2478  Physical exercise and access to the open air are components of humane treatment and not privileges, and should therefore be available to all prisoners of war, without discrimination. Depriving prisoners of war of the entitlements they have under Article 38(2) does not in itself constitute a war crime, but it may seriously affect the physical and mental well-being of prisoners of war. Thus, depending on the circumstances, a violation of Article 38(2), combined with other violations, might amount to the grave breach of inhuman treatment.[53]
Back to top
Select bibliography
Bretonnière, Maurice, L’application de la Convention de Genève aux prisonniers français en Allemagne durant la second guerre mondiale (typewritten thesis), Paris, 1949, pp. 114–115 and 136–137.
Durand, Yves, La captivité : Histoire des prisonniers de guerre français 1939–1945, Fédération Nationale des Combattants d’Algérie, Tunisie, Maroc, Paris, 1980, pp. 287–307.
Gillet, Eric, ‘Histoire des sous-officiers et soldats belges prisonniers de guerre, 1940–1945’, Revue belge d’histoire militaire, Vol. 28, No. 3, 1989, pp. 217–254, at 228–237.
Hingorani, Rup C., Prisoners of War, 2nd edition, Oceana Press, Dobbs Ferry, 1982, pp. 127–128.
Krammer, Arnold, Prisoners of War: A Reference Handbook, Praeger Security International, Westport, 2008, pp. 43–44.
Levie, Howard, S., Prisoners of War in International Armed Conflict, International Law Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Vol. 59, 1978, pp. 139–143.
MacArthur, Brian, Surviving the Sword: Prisoners of the Japanese in the Far-East, 1942–1945, Random House, New York, 2005, pp. 169–174 and 238–252.
Mackenzie, Simon P., The Colditz Myth: British and Commonwealth Prisoners of War in Nazi Germany, Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 154–230.
Maia, Catherine, Kolb, Robert and Scalia, Damien, La Protection des Prisonniers de Guerre en Droit International Humanitaire, Bruylant, Brussels, 2015.
Salunke, SP, Pakistani POWs in India, Vikas Publishing, New Delhi.
Sanna, Silvia, ‘Treatment of Prisoners of War’, in Andrew Clapham, Paola Gaeta and Marco Sassòli (eds), The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 97–1011.
Steuer, Kenneth, Pursuit of an ‘Unparalleled Opportunity’: The American YMCA and Prisoner-of-War Diplomacy among the Central Power Nations during World War I, 1914–1923, Columbia University Press, New York, 2009, pp. 112–115 and 163–177.
Thompson, Antonio, Men in German Uniform: POWs in America during World War II, University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 2010, pp. 103–115.
Vuillet, André, The Y.M.C.A. and Prisoners of War during World War II, Y.M.C.A, United States, 1946, pp. 19–34.

1 - See e.g. UN Security Council, Prisoners of war in Iran and Iraq: The report of a mission dispatched by the Secretary-General, January 1985, UN Doc. S/16962, 22 February 1985, para. 278, which found that a lack of physical and intellectual activities resulted in ‘progressive mental degeneration of prisoners’.
2 - Article 13(4) of the 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War called for there to be facilities in camps to allow prisoners of war to engage in physical exercise and to enjoy the benefits of being outdoors. Article 17 of the Convention aimed to facilitate prisoners’ access to intellectual and sporting pursuits.
3 - At the Conference of Government Experts in 1947, following a recommendation by the Second Commission, the contents of Article 13(4) and Article 17 of the 1929 Convention were merged into one article; Report of the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, p. 151. Thus, the two provisions correspond to the second and first paragraphs respectively of Article 38 of the Third Convention.
4 - As voiced by the ICRC during the discussions of the commission created to assess treaty provisions relative to the intellectual and spiritual needs of prisoners of war and civilian internees, there was a need to strengthen the protection afforded by Article 17 of the 1929 Convention; Report of the Commission on the Religious and Intellectual Needs of Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees of 1947, p. 15.
5 - On the definition of propaganda, see the commentary on Article 14, para. 1668.
6 - Only a few Detaining Powers had interpreted Article 17 of the 1929 Convention as implying that propaganda activities could not be forced on prisoners of war; see Levie, p. 140.
7 - The ICRC intervened, for example, on behalf of Allied prisoners of war in the hands of German authorities and of Italian prisoners of war in British custody in India; see ICRC, Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its Activities during the Second World War (September 1, 1939–June 30, 1947), Volume I: General Activities, ICRC, Geneva, May 1948, p. 251. In 1944, the United States launched the ‘Intellectual Diversion Program’ to ‘re-educate’ German prisoners through books, movies, newspapers and classes. The programme was presented as a project for prisoners’ entertainment. See Ronald H. Bailey, Prisoners of War (World War II), Time-Life Books, 1981, p. 166.
8 - Report of the Commission on the Religious and Intellectual Needs of Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees of 1947, p. 15.
9 - ICRC Remarks and Proposals on the 1948 Stockholm Draft, p. 38.
10 - See e.g. UN Security Council, Prisoners of war in Iran and Iraq: The report of a mission dispatched by the Secretary-General, January 1985, UN Doc. S/16962, 22 February 1985, para. 279. See also the commentary on Article 14, para. 1670.
11 - See e.g. United States, Law of War Manual, 2016, p. 573, para. 9.16.1 (‘it would be prohibited to compel POWs to listen to propaganda or to punish them if they do not participate’).
12 - Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Prisoners of War, Eritrea’s Claim, Partial Award, 2003, paras 85–86.
13 - Collins English Dictionary (online dictionary).
14 - On so-called ‘deradicalization’ efforts and the free exercise of religious duties by prisoners of war, see the commentary on Article 34, para. 2369.
15 - See Article 16. See also the commentary on Article 14, para. 1671.
16 - See the commentary on Article 14, paras 1668–1672.
17 - See the commentary on Article 22, para. 2005. For examples of where keeping certain groups of prisoners of war separated to avoid unrest was recommended, see UN Security Council, Prisoners of War in Iran and Iraq – The report of a mission dispatched by the Secretary-General, January 1985, UN Doc. S/16962, 22 February 1985, para. 295(g), and Report of the mission dispatched by the Secretary-General on the situation of prisoners of war in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq, August 1988, UN Doc. S/20147, 24 August 1988, paras 28 and 78.
18 - See Article 16. See also the commentary on Article 14, para. 1671.
19 - See e.g. United Kingdom, Joint Doctrine Captured Persons, 2015, p. 7-13, para. 730. On solitary confinement, see the commentaries on Article 87, para. 3711, and on Article 89, paras 3756–3757.
20 - The Committee comprised the following organizations: World Alliance of YMCAs, International Bureau of Education, Ecumenical Commission for Chaplaincy Service to Prisoners of War, European Student Relief Fund, International Federation of Library Associations and Swiss Catholic Mission for Prisoners of War.
21 - Pursuant to Article 21, prisoners of war may not be held in close confinement except as prescribed by the Convention’s rules on penal and disciplinary sanctions, or where necessary to safeguard their health and then only during the continuation of the circumstances which made such confinement necessary.
22 - See e.g. Salunke, pp. 20 and 79.
23 - See also United States, Law of War Manual, 2016, p. 574, para. 9.16.2.
24 - See Article 16.
25 - In the past, ‘camp universities’ were established allowing prisoners of war to take exams, which were then authenticated by the Ministry of Education or through agreements with universities in the prisoners’ country of origin. Camp universities were created for the first time during the First World War and considerably developed during the Second World War. ICRC, Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its Activities during the Second World War (September 1, 1939–June 30, 1947), Volume I: General Activities, ICRC, Geneva, May 1948, p. 275.
26 - For example, a number of Pakistani prisoners of war were made literate during internment in India; Salunke, p. 98.
27 - See e.g. ‘L’activité du CICR au Proche-Orient’, Revue internationale de la Croix-Rouge, Vol. 53, No. 627, March 1971, pp. 172–173; ICRC, Annual Report 1982, ICRC, Geneva, p. 60; ICRC, Annual Report 1983, ICRC, Geneva, p. 63; ICRC, Annual Report 1990, ICRC, Geneva, p. 77.
28 - Prisoners have used various articles at their disposal in prisoner-of-war camps to stage theatre performances or to produce artworks. Sometimes their sculptures, paintings and other artistic objects have been put on display. Prisoners have often also been allowed to stage theatre performances in front of audiences, including, besides fellow prisoners, members of the public from outside the camp. See Durand, pp. 297–307; Gillet, pp. 231–235; MacArthur, pp. 238–246; Thompson, pp. 109–110; and Vuillet, pp. 26–27 and 32–33.
29 - For an example, see Salunke, p. 97.
30 - See e.g. Hingorani, p. 128.
31 - ICRC, Annual Report 2001, ICRC, Geneva, p. 87.
32 - See Vuillet, p. 31.
33 - For example, the Detaining Power could, for security reasons, censor some material or prohibit activities such as gambling or classes that might provide prisoners with information facilitating escape. In at least one case, a show at a prisoner-of-war camp was interrupted and prisoners of war searched for the show’s script. They were consequently accused of having insulted sergeants of the Detaining Power and assaulted. See United Kingdom, Military Court at Singapore, Takamine case, Abstract of Evidence, 1946, p. 1.
34 - Article 80(1).
35 - Article 125(1).
36 - Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 12th edition, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 470.
37 - Report of the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, p. 151.
38 - Draft Conventions submitted to the 1948 Stockholm Conference, remarks on draft article 31, p. 75.
39 - See Articles 28 and 58.
40 - Prisoners of war are entitled, on the basis of Article 72(1), to receive parcels containing, among other things, articles of an ‘educational or recreational character which may meet their needs’. In addition, Article 125 requires that representatives of religious organizations, relief societies or any other organization assisting prisoners of war receive all necessary facilities for, among other things, distributing material intended for religious, educational or recreational purposes, and for assisting them in organizing their leisure time in camps.
41 - Article 72(2).
42 - See also the commentary on Article 14(2), para. 1691.
43 - For more details on this grave breach, see the commentary on Article 130, section D.3.
44 - See United Kingdom, High Court of Justice, Alseran case, Judgment, 2017, para. 514, in which it was stated that this was one of the most serious breaches of the Geneva Conventions that were under consideration by the Court with respect to the treatment of prisoners at Camp Bucca in Iraq.
45 - Other international instruments dealing with situations of deprivation of liberty that differ from that of prisoners of war also highlight the importance of physical exercise and access to the open air for the well-being of prisoners: see UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (1990), Rule 47; ICTY Rules Governing the Detention of Persons (1994), Rules 27–28; SCSL Rules Governing the Detention of Persons (2003), Rule 54; European Prison Rules (2006), Rule 27(1); and the non-binding Mandela Rules (2015), Rule 23.
46 - Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 12th edition, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 498.
47 - This was also the case, for example, when French prisoners in Germany during the Second World War were obliged to go round the barracks for hours on an empty stomach; see Bretonnière, pp. 114–115.
48 - To this end, the French delegate to the 1949 Diplomatic Conference suggested inserting the word ‘sufficient’; Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-A, p. 263.
49 - Article 98(3).
50 - In this respect, international humanitarian law offers stronger protection than other international standards, which consider one hour per day as the minimum time prisoners should be allowed to spend outdoors. See e.g. European Prison Rules (2006), Rule 27(1), and the non-binding Mandela Rules (2015), Rule 23.
51 - Article 108(3). For more details, see the commentary on Article 108, section E.2.c.
52 - Articles 103 and 108(3).
53 - For more details on this grave breach, see the commentary on Article 130, section D.3. Within the human rights framework, the UN Human Rights Committee recognized that allowing a prisoner only five minutes a day for exercise in the open air, in conjunction with a scarcity of access to personal hygiene facilities, amounted to a violation of Article 10 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Párkányi v. Hungary, Views, 1992, para. 8.3. In addition, the European Court of Human Rights stressed that being continuously kept indoors may amount to torture; Z.N.S. v. Turkey, Judgment, 2010, para. 83.