Practice Relating to Rule 27. Religious Personnel
Ireland’s Basic LOAC Guide (2005) states:
Medical [and religious] personnel engaged in the search for, or the collection, transport, or treatment of the wounded or sick must be respected and protected in all circumstances. Medical [and religious] personnel may be armed with light individual weapons for their own protection and the protection of persons under their care. Religious personnel attached to the armed forces have the same rights as medical personnel.
… [R]eligious personnel include:
- personnel such as chaplains (whether military or civilian) who are dedicated exclusively to the exercise of their ministry.
If … religious personnel fall into “enemy” hands, they shall be allowed to continue their duties towards the wounded and sick. It is important to note that technically they do not become PWs [prisoners of war] but they are entitled to the benefit of the same treatment afforded to PWs. As soon as the situation permits, senior headquarters will permit these personnel to be returned to their own side. In spite of these rules, the capturing party is entitled to retain a certain number of … religious personnel for the benefit of the PWs they hold. The number of those retained will be determined by … the spiritual needs and the number of prisoners.
Ireland’s Geneva Conventions Act (1962), as amended in 1998, provides that any “minor breach” of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, including violations of Article 24 of the Geneva Convention I and Article 36 of the Geneva Convention II, and of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, including violations of Article 15, as well as any “contravention” of the 1977 Additional Protocol II, including violations of Article 9, are punishable offences.