Practice Relating to Rule 146. Reprisals against Protected Persons
Section A. Captured combatants and prisoners of war
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands, in the chapter dealing with the protection of prisoners of war, states: “Reprisals against prisoners of war are forbidden.”
The Military Handbook (1995) of the Netherlands states: “Protected persons under the laws of war are: … prisoners of war … Reprisals against them must not be taken.”
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
Reprisals against prisoners of war are prohibited. Prisoners of war are entitled to respect for their persons and their honour. The paramount requirement here is a ban on killing, wounding or endangering prisoners of war.
In its chapter on methods and means of warfare, the manual states:
In the history of warfare, reprisals carried out have often exceeded the set limits. This has led to the current prohibition, in the humanitarian law of war and specifically in AP I [1977 Additional Protocol I], of reprisals against several groups of people and objects.
The following are now forbidden as reprisals:
- attacks on prisoners of war.
In its judgment in the Rauter case
in 1949, the Special Court of Cassation of the Netherlands, dealing with the limits to reprisals, stated: “Among the limits referred to, the prohibition should especially be mentioned of taking reprisals against prisoners of war, as this was expressly prohibited by Art. 2 of the 1929 [Geneva POW] Convention.”