Practice Relating to Rule 104. Respect for Convictions and Religious Practices
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
Starting with the introduction of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, followed by many treaties and conventions at world and regional level, there has come into being an extensive corpus of rules and procedures by which states have undertaken to respect and guarantee human rights. A number of these rights are so important that they are binding even on states which are not party to the conventions and permit no deviation from them, even in emergency situations such as war. These core rights, including … religious freedom, are just as relevant in time of armed conflict as in time of peace.
In its chapter on the protection of prisoners of war, the manual refers to “respect for fundamental rights such as freedom of conscience and worship” as a “priority”.
In its chapter on the protection of the civilian population, the manual states: “Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights and their religious convictions.”
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states:
Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and Article 4 of AP II [1977 Additional Protocol II], contain a number of fundamental guarantees of humane treatment that relate to all who are not participating directly in the hostilities, or have ceased to do so. Primarily this means civilians, but also members of the armed forces, dissident militias and armed groups who, due to wounds, sickness or capture, are no longer taking part in the combat or have been placed hors de combat
… They are all entitled to respect for their persons and convictions, and to practise their religion.
In its judgment in the Zuhlke case
in 1948, a Special Court of Cassation of the Netherlands held that refusal to admit a clergyman or priest to a person awaiting execution of the death sentence constituted a war crime.