Practice Relating to Rule 96. Hostage-Taking
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) restates Article 75(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, which provides for the prohibition of “the taking of hostages” at any time and in any place whatsoever, whether committed by civilian or by military agents.
The manual also states that “the taking of hostages is now forbidden by treaty”.
The manual further provides that it is a grave breach of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV “to take a protected civilian hostage” (Article 147).
The manual prohibits hostage-taking in non-international armed conflicts and explains: “It has now become accepted, in international conflicts at least, that the taking of hostages is an offence under customary law and most systems of national law forbid such actions.”
New Zealand’s Geneva Conventions Act (1958), as amended in 1987, provides that “any person who in New Zealand or elsewhere commits, or aids or abets or procures the commission by another person of, a grave breach of any of the [1949 Geneva] Conventions … is guilty of an indictable offence”.
Under New Zealand’s International Crimes and ICC Act (2000), war crimes include the crimes defined in Article 8(2)(a)(viii) and (c)(iii) of the 1998 ICC Statute.