Practice Relating to Rule 87. Humane Treatment
Section D. Persons deprived of their liberty
Italy’s IHL Manual (1991) provides that prisoners of war shall be treated with humanity in all cases.
Italy’s LOAC Elementary Rules Manual (1991) stipulates: “Captured enemy combatants shall be … treated humanely.”
Italy’s Combatant’s Manual (1998) states:
251. … [E]nemy deserters and renegades must be guarded and held separately from the other prisoners, not only for the high level of interest in them in terms of information, but also to save them from possible violence by their compatriots.
Prisoners of war must always be treated humanely.
No coercion may be applied to prisoners to obtain information about the state of their army or their country. Prisoners who refuse to respond must not be threatened or insulted or subject to any kind of harassment or disadvantages.
252. … As soon as prisoners are captured, they must:
- be treated with all due courtesy and military firmness without allowing them to speak among themselves or fraternize, in order to avoid prejudicing the future interrogation;
If necessary to prevent escape, physical constraints may be used, such as locking up or handcuffing.
Prisoners of war must not be forced to assume positions that may cause physical discomfort, however – during the search – they can be forced to lean forward with their hands on a support or lie face down.
It is permissible to make them remain standing or seated with their hands on their head, as long as this position is not held so long as to inflict physical suffering on them.
Prisoners of war must be transported under armed escort … In all cases, whenever necessary, prisoners of war may be blindfolded, to prevent them from observing friendly positions or seeing each other, taking care that the blindfold does not hamper circulation or the ability to breathe through the nose.
[emphasis in original]
In 2004, in reply to a question concerning the treatment of Iraqi prisoners, Italy’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stated:
The appalling conduct of personnel belonging to armed forces of Coalition countries who allegedly abused Iraqi prisoners calls for the highest indignation and the firmest condemnation by the Italian Government. The Italian Government strongly hopes that those who are responsible for such conduct will undergo an appropriate punishment … Let me finally recall that, also as a consequence of the resonance of the episodes of violence and abuses against the Iraqi prisoners, the Italian contingent applies all possible measures to guarantee, before the transfer takes place, that captured and delivered persons are treated in conformity with international human rights standards.