Practice Relating to Rule 108. Mercenaries
Section B. Status of mercenaries
France’s LOAC Teaching Note (2000) states: “Mercenaries are not combatants and therefore shall not have the right to prisoner-of-war status.”
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) states: “Mercenaries shall not have the right to combatant or prisoner-of-war status.”
France’s Penal Code (1992), as amended in 2003, provides:
Participation in mercenary action
Article 436-1. – Punished with five years of imprisonment and a fine of 75 000 EUR is the act:
1° by any person, specially recruited in order to fight in an armed conflict, who is neither a national of a State party to that conflict, nor a member of the armed forces of that State, nor has been sent on official duty as a member of its armed forces by a State which is not one of the parties to the conflict, of taking, or trying to take, a direct part in the hostilities, motivated by the desire for private gain or for a compensation substantially in excess of that paid or promised to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of the party for which the person is to fight;
2° by any person, specially recruited for the purpose of participating in a concerted act of violence aimed at overthrowing the institutions or undermining the territorial integrity of a State, who is neither a national of the State against which that act is directed, nor a member of the armed forces of that State, nor has been sent on official duty by a State, of taking, or trying to take, part in such an act, motivated by the desire for a significant private gain or compensation.
Article 436-2. – The act of directing or organizing a group having as object the recruitment, employment, compensation, equipment or military training of a person defined in article 436-1 is punished with seven years of imprisonment and a fine of 100 000 EUR.
Article 436-3. – If the acts mentioned in the present chapter are committed abroad by a French national or by a person habitually residing in the French territory, French law is applicable by derogation from paragraph two of article 113-6, and the provisions of the second sentence of article 113-8 are not applicable.