Practice Related to Rule 95. Forced Labour
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands restates the rules on labour carried out by prisoners of war as found in Articles 49–52, 54, 60 and 64 of the 1949 Geneva Convention III and Article 51 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV.
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
It is expressly prohibited to carry out the following acts against the civilian population or individual civilians, wounded, sick or prisoners:
- slavery, slave trading or dangerous or degrading forced labour;
- threatening anyone with the above-mentioned acts or treatment.
In its chapter on peace operations, the manual states:
Section 2 - Applicability of human rights
1211. Human rights should be respected … However, “in time of war or in case of any other general state of emergency which threatens the existence of the country,” certain human rights may be curtailed as long as the situation strictly necessitates such measures. But the right to life, the prohibition of torture, slavery and forced labour, and the legal principle “no punishment without prior legal provision” cannot be waived.
The Definition of War Crimes Decree (1946) of the Netherlands includes “forced labour of civilians in connection with the military operations of the enemy” and “the employment of prisoners of war on unauthorized works” in its list of war crimes.
In its judgement in the Notomi case
in 1947, the Temporary Court Martial at Makassar sentenced four of the accused to death and two others to imprisonment. The accused were responsible for a prisoner of war camp. They were found responsible for having subjected the prisoners to labour for which they were not suited. The Court thus considered that Articles 29 and 30 of the 1929 Geneva POW Convention, which it considered to reflect customary international humanitarian law, had been violated.
In its judgement in the Koshiro case
in 1947, the Temporary Court-Martial of Makassar of the Netherlands found that forcing prisoners of war to build ammunition depots and fill them with ammunition amounted to “employing prisoners of war on war work” and qualified it as a violation of Article 6 of the 1907 Hague Regulations and of Article 31 of the 1929 Geneva POW Convention.
In its judgement in the Rohrig and Others case
in 1950, a Special Court of Cassation of the Netherlands found the accused guilty of having deported civilians from the Netherlands to Germany and having put them to forced labour in the construction of the fortifications of the German “West Wall”.