Practice Relating to Rule 125. Correspondence of Persons Deprived of Their Liberty
Switzerland’s Basic Military Manual (1987) states:
Each prisoner of war shall be enabled to inform immediately or as rapidly as possible his family and the Central Prisoners of War Agency in case of illness or transfer to another camp. The prisoner shall be allowed to receive and send correspondence, and in urgent cases it shall be permitted to send telegrams …
Any prohibition of correspondence ordered for military or political reasons shall be only temporary and its duration shall be as short as possible.
According to the manual, the same rules are also applicable to internees.
Switzerland’s Regulation on Legal Bases for Conduct during an Engagement (2005) states:
160 … [M]ilitary necessity may not be invoked to justify disrespect for the international law of armed conflict, unless this is expressly provided for by the rules.
161 Thus, for example, … a temporary prohibition of correspondence may be imposed on prisoners of war, if required for military or political reasons (Art. 76 of Geneva Convention III).
Switzerland’s ABC of International Humanitarian Law (2009) states: “The [Central Tracing] Agency works with the national authorities’ official information services, ICRC delegates and other institutions active in the field. It … conveys messages and helps to reunite families.”
In 2011, in answer to an interpellation in Parliament, Switzerland’s Federal Council stated: “Switzerland will continue to remind the de facto authorities in Gaza of their obligations in the area of international humanitarian law. Switzerland also calls on the de facto authorities in Gaza to allow Gilad Shalit to be in a regular contact with his family.”