Practice Relating to Rule 135. Children
Section A. Special protection
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) provides: “Belligerents must make provision for the care of children under 15 who have been orphaned or separated from their families as a result of the conflict. They must ensure the maintenance of such children.”
With respect to non-international armed conflicts in particular, the manual states: “Children are to receive such aid and protection as required.”
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter on the treatment of civilians in the hands of a party to the conflict or an occupying power:
Belligerents must make provision for the care of children under 15 who have been orphaned or separated from their families as a result of the conflict. They must ensure the maintenance of such children … Belligerents must also facilitate the reception of these children by neutral countries for the duration of hostilities, with the consent of the Protecting Power, if any.
In its chapter on rights and duties of occupying powers, the manual states:
1218. Welfare measures
2. The occupying power must take the necessary steps to ensure that children under fifteen separated from their families are not left to their own resources, and that proper steps are taken to maintain their education and religious welfare …
1219. Relief measures
1. The occupying power is under an obligation to allow free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital stores and objects necessary for religious worship intended for civilians in occupied territory, as well as of essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases. However, it may, require that distribution of such supplies be under the supervision of the Protecting Power.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflicts, the manual states:
1714. Treatment of children
1. [The 1977 Additional Protocol II] provides that children are to receive such aid and protection as required …
2. Children under fifteen who do take part in hostilities remain protected.
Canada’s Prisoner of War Handling and Detainees Manual (2004) states the following with regard to the capture and treatment of juveniles:
a. Determination of Age. There may be instances where PW do not know or are unwilling to reveal their date of birth. In such circumstances, the decision whether or not an individual is to be classified as a juvenile is to be made by an officer. In such a situation, it will be better to assume that the PW is a juvenile until more detailed checks can be made.
Apart from the general guidance contained in [the 1977 Additional Protocol I], Art. 77, the [1949 Geneva Conventions] and [the 1977 Additional Protocol I] make no specific provision for the capture and treatment of juveniles. It will therefore be for Canada, as the Detaining Power, to establish a policy for the initial handling of juveniles, which will conform to the humanitarian principles of the [1949 Geneva Conventions].
With regard to the searching of juveniles, the manual states that “[an] officer is to be present at all times when juveniles … are searched”.
With regard to the special dietary requirements of juveniles, the manual states: “Juveniles… are … to be provided with appropriate dietary supplements as directed by the Canadian or coalition Medical officer”.
With regard to liability for work duties, the manual states that juveniles “may be employed in light work only”.
With regard to the interrogation and tactical questioning of prisoners of war (PW), the manual states: “PW are entitled in all circumstances to respect for their persons and their honour. … Children who have not attained the age of 18 years shall be the object of special respect.”