Practice Relating to Rule 146. Reprisals against Protected Persons
Section D. Civilians in the power of the adversary
Switzerland’s Basic Military Manual (1987), in the part dealing with “Hostilities and their limits” refers, inter alia
, to Article 33 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV and Articles 51, 54 and 55 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I and states: “Reprisals against the civilian population are prohibited.”
In the part dealing with civilian persons and, more specifically, “civilian persons who are in the power of the troops at the moment of combat”, the manual refers to Article 33 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV and states: “Measures of reprisal or attacks [carried out] as measures of reprisal are prohibited.”
In a provision dealing with reprisals, the manual, referring to Article 33 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV, states: “By virtue of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, [reprisals] are prohibited with regard to … the civilian population”.
Switzerland’s Regulation on Legal Bases for Conduct during an Engagement (2005) states:
Foreign civilians or civilians of an adverse party to a conflict are specifically protected under the law of armed conflict.
If they are in the hands of a military unit, they must at all times be treated humanely. Any act of torture, physical or mental ill-treatment, degrading treatment or discrimination as well as measures of reprisal are prohibited.
[emphasis in original]