Practice Relating to Rule 117. Accounting for Missing Persons
Section B. Provision of information on missing persons
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) states:
The requests and all information which may assist in tracing or identifying [missing] persons shall be transmitted through the Protecting Power or the Central Tracing Agency of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or the national Red Cross societies.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter on the treatment of the wounded, sick and shipwrecked:
As soon as possible, and certainly immediately upon the end of hostilities, each party to the conflict must search for those reported missing by the adverse party. The requests and all information, which may assist in tracing or identifying such person shall be transmitted through the Protecting Power or the Central Tracing Agency of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or the national Red Cross Societies.
In its chapter on the treatment of civilians in the hands of a party to the conflict or an occupying power, the manual states:
1132. Information bureau
1. [The 1949 Geneva Convention IV] requires that upon the outbreak of a conflict and in all cases of occupation each of the parties to the conflict must establish an official information bureau to receive and transmit information concerning the protected persons who are in its power. Each party is bound, as soon as possible, to give its bureau full particulars relating to the placing in custody for more than two weeks, the placing in assigned residence, or the internment, of any protected person. It is also the duty of each party to see that its various departments concerned with such matters give the bureau prompt information concerning the protected persons, for example, transfers, releases, repatriations, escape, admissions to hospital, births and deaths.
2. Each national bureau must forward without delay information concerning protected persons to the powers of which such persons are nationals or in whose territory they formerly resided. This is to be done through the Protecting Powers and through a central agency, which is to be set up in a neutral country. The national bureau must also reply to all enquiries concerning protected persons unless sending such information would be detrimental to the person concerned or to his or her relatives.
1133. Central agency
1. A central information agency for protected persons, particularly internees, must be set up in a neutral country. The ICRC may, if it thinks it necessary, propose to the powers concerned the organization of such an agency. The duty of the agency is to collect the information referred to in the preceding paragraphs and to send it to the countries of origin or residence of the persons concerned, unless this course might be harmful to the persons concerned or their relatives.