Practice Relating to Rule 49. War Booty
South Africa’s LOAC Teaching Manual (2008) states:
2.2 Military Medical Services and Religious Personnel/objects
- Medical material that falls in the hands of an enemy must be reserved for the care of the wounded and sick and may not be intentionally destroyed. ( Geneva Convention I article 33.)
- The buildings, material and stores of fixed medical establishments may not be diverted from care for the wounded and sick. However, commanders of forces in the field may use it in cases of urgent military necessity, as long as they have made previous arrangements for the welfare of the enemy wounded and sick that are nursed in them. (Geneva Convention I article 33.) Military medical transport (excluding military medical aircraft and hospital ships) that are no longer needed for the sick and wounded become war booty.
2.3 Specifically Protected Persons and Objects …
c. Prisoners of War
POW [prisoners of war] must be disarmed upon capture. All military equipment such as firearms and other weapons and military documents may be seized from POW and it becomes war booty.
The following objects may not be taken away from a POW:
- All effects and articles of personal use.
- Helmets, body armour, gas masks and similar articles issued for personal protection.
- Effects and articles used for clothing and feeding, even if it is military equipment.
- Identity documents.
- Badges of rank and nationality, decorations and articles of sentimental value.
- Money, except by order of an officer and only if the amount taken and particulars of the owner have been recorded in a special register and an itemised receipt, which are legibly inscribed with the name rank and unit of the person issuing the receipt, is given.
- Articles of value, except for reasons of security, in which instance it should be treated the same way as money.
POW must be disarmed upon capture. All military equipment such as firearms and other weapons and military documents may be seized from POW and it becomes war booty.
2.4 Specifically Protected Persons and Objects:
The protection of civilians can be briefly summarised as follows:
- Civilian property must also be respected. It is NOT:
- War booty;
- To be taken for own gain; or
- To be willfully destroyed or treated with wanton disregard for its protection.
[emphasis in original]
The manual also states:
- War booty are military objects captured from the opposing party to a conflict.
- War booty may be used without restriction, but it belongs to the capturing Party, not to individual members of that Party.
- Captured military objects that do NOT become war booty are:
- Means of identification.
- Those objects, that are necessary for clothing, feeding and the protection of captured personnel.
- Money and valuables taken from captured persons.
- Military medical and religious objects.
- Military medical objects, which have been seized, may only be employed for the treatment of the captured sick and wounded.
- The following are examples of war booty:
- Objects having a military value, such as maps, intelligence reports, ammunition, etc.
- Means of transport.
Handling of War Victims
- The personal belongings of war victims belong to them and do not become war booty.
[emphasis in original]