United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Relating to Rule 118. Provision of Basic Necessities to Persons Deprived of Their Liberty
The UK Military Manual (1958) provides: “Belligerents who intern protected persons must provide, free of charge, for [their] maintenance (including that of their dependants if the latter are without adequate means of support or are unable to earn a living).”
The manual also stipulates: “The state detaining prisoners of war is bound to provide free of charge for their maintenance and medical care.”
The manual further specifies that prisoners of war and internees “are allowed to receive … relief shipments containing, in particular, foodstuffs, clothing, medical supplies, books and objects of a devotional, educational or recreational nature”.
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) provides: “PW [prisoners of war] must be provided with free maintenance and medical attention.”
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states: “The detaining power must provide for the maintenance and medical care of prisoners of war free of charge.”
The manual also states: “Accommodation for prisoners of war is required to be at least as good as that for the forces of the detaining power billeted in the same area.”
The manual further states:
The basic daily ration must be sufficient in quantity, quality and variety to maintain health and prevent loss of weight or nutritional deficiencies, account being taken of the usual diet of the prisoners of war. There must be an adequate supply of drinking water.
The manual also explains: “The detaining power must supply prisoners of war with sufficient clothing, underwear and footwear for the climatic conditions.”
Furthermore, the manual provides:
The detaining power must take all measures necessary to prevent epidemics and to ensure that camps are kept clean, sanitary and healthy … Each camp must have an adequate infirmary where prisoners of war, including those undergoing punishment, can have the medical attention, including diet, which they need … Prisoners of war must be examined at least once a month to monitor their general state of health, nutrition and cleanliness and also to detect infection or contagion, especially tuberculosis, malaria and venereal disease.
In its chapter on the protection of civilians in the hands of a party to the conflict, when discussing conditions of internment, the manual states:
Maintenance and medical care of interned protected persons, and of their dependants who lack adequate means of support or are unable to earn a living, must be provided free of charge by the detaining power.
The manual further states, in the same context:
The basic daily ration must be sufficient in quantity, quality and variety to maintain health and prevent nutritional deficiencies, regard being paid to the customary diet of the internees. There must be sufficient drinking water.
The manual continues:
When taken into custody, internees must be given facilities to provide themselves with necessary clothing and to procure further supplies. If any internee has insufficient clothing and is unable to procure it, the detaining power must provide it for him free of charge.
The manual adds:
9.55. Each internment camp must have an adequate infirmary under the personal supervision of a qualified doctor where internees may receive the medical attention that they require, as well as an appropriate diet. Isolation wards must be set aside for those suffering from contagious diseases or mental illness. However, maternity cases and those suffering from serious disease, in need of special treatment, surgical operation or hospital care must be admitted to any hospital at which such treatment or care is available and receive care not inferior to that provided for the general population. Wherever possible, internees should have the attention of medical personnel of their own nationality. Internees may not be refused medical examination. Medical treatment and remedial aids such as dentures, artificial appliances and spectacles are to be provided free of charge.
9.56. A medical examination must be conducted at least once a month to monitor the general state of internees’ health, nutrition and cleanliness, to detect infection, especially tuberculosis, malaria and venereal disease, and to check weight. There must be an X-ray examination at least once a year. In the case of working internees, these examinations will also verify their fitness for work.
9.63. Internees are allowed to receive individual parcels and collective relief shipments containing items such as food, clothing, medical supplies and religious, educational, cultural or recreational articles.
In its chapter on occupied territory, the manual states:
Protected persons who are detained either because they are awaiting trial or as a result of a custodial sentence are entitled to have the following treatment:
c. their conditions of food and hygiene must be sufficient to keep them in good health and must not be less favourable than those in force in prisons in the occupied country;
d. they must have the medical attention required by their state of health.
With regard to internal armed conflict, the manual states: “Detainees should be provided with sufficient food and drinking water, facilities for health and hygiene and shelter from the weather and the dangers of armed conflict.”
In 2003, in reply to a question in the House of Lords, the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Bach, stated:
Lord Vivian: My Lords, can the Minister tell the House how many Iraqi prisoners of war are being detained by British forces and how long it will take to process them and to record their relevant details in accordance with the Geneva Conventions? In addition, how many British troops are required to guard and protect them and what amount of food, water and medical supplies are allocated to them in accordance with the Geneva Conventions?
Lord Bach: My Lords, as of this morning, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland forces were guarding more than 6,500 coalition prisoners. They are being held in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland divisional compound in Iraq, and UK forces are deployed to guard the prisoners of war. The numbers depend on the circumstances in force at the time. Therefore, I hope that the noble Lord will understand if I do not give more precise details.
We are processing the prisoners as fast as possible; the Red Crescent is content with the action that we are taking in that regard. Prisoners are of course being given sufficient food, water and access to the medical facilities that they require.
In 2003, in a written reply to a question in the House of Commons, the UK Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Ministry of Defence, stated:
Prisoners of war are provided with Halal food in accordance with local practice. They are given one hot and two cold meals per day, and water and hot drinks are readily available. They are provided with shelter, in the form of carpeted, tented accommodation and, if needed, medical treatment.
In 2003, in reply to a written question in the House of Lords, the UK Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated:
British officials last visited Guantánamo Bay from 21 to 28 April and saw each of the British detainees during that period. The International Committee of the Red Cross has access to the detainees on request. The British detainees have twice-weekly exercise periods outside and are also allowed to exercise in their cells and communal areas. We do not consider this to be sufficient and have raised this issue with the US authorities.
In 2003, in a written reply to a question in the House of Lords, the UK Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated:
British officials have visited the British detainees held at Guantánamo Bay five times, most recently in April. As part of the visits they checked on the welfare of the detainees, who appeared generally to be in sound physical health. The physical conditions of their detention appear to be broadly satisfactory. However, we have raised any welfare concerns we may have with the US authorities.
We understand that provision for exercise has improved from the minimum of two 15-minute periods of exercise outside every week, but varies according to circumstances. The camp authorities provide some books, including the Koran.
The US announced on 18 July that they would not commence any military commission proceedings against UK nationals detained at Guantánamo Bay, pending discussions between American and British legal experts. We understand from the US authorities that medical facilities, including psychiatric care, at Guantánamo Bay available to the detainees are of a high standard and are the same as those for US military personnel. We firmly believe that a fair judicial process should take account of a person’s fitness to stand trial. This is one of the specific issues we have raised with the US authorities, and continue to discuss with them.
In 2004, in a written reply to a question concerning persons detained in southern Iraq, the UK Minister of State for Defence stated: “Individuals detained by British forces in Iraq undergo a full medical examination to ensure detention does not pose a risk to their health.”
In 2004, in a written reply to a question concerning “the document issued to service personnel announcing the ban on the use of hoods for Iraqi prisoners”, the UK Secretary of State for Defence stated:
An amended Standard Operating Instruction on the Policy for Apprehending, Handling and Processing Detainees and Internees was issued on 30 September 2003. The following section of the document contains the relevant information.
a. Apprehended individuals are to be treated at all times fairly, humanely and with respect for his or her personal dignity;
b. Apprehended individuals are to be protected from danger and the elements;
c. Apprehended individuals are not to be kept in direct sunlight for long periods;
d. Medical care is to be provided if required;
e. Food and water are to be provided as necessary, having regard to any national, ethnic or religious dietary requirements;
j. It is a command responsibility to ensure that all apprehended individuals are treated in accordance with these principles.
In 2010, in its closing submissions to the public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Baha Mousa and the treatment of those detained with him by UK armed forces in Iraq in 2003, the UK Ministry of Defence stated:
12. The treaties setting out rules of IHL are supplemented by rules of customary international law (CIL), i.e. rules which are recognized as binding by States, even though they do not appear in treaty texts. … [I]n relation to the rules described below the Government accepts that they reflect CIL. It is suggested that the rules which are of most relevance to this inquiry are:
12.14. … Persons deprived of their liberty must be provided with adequate food, water, clothing, shelter and medical attention.
[emphasis in original]
In 2010, the UK Army Inspector examined and assessed the implementation of policy, training and conduct of detainee handling by UK armed forces on operations. The Army Inspector’s final report noted that “[i]n 1972 the UK Government prohibited the use of 5 techniques … [including] deprivation of food and drink … as an aid to interrogation”.
(footnote in original omitted)