Practice Relating to Rule 122. Pillage of the Personal Belongings of Persons Deprived of Their Liberty
Côte d’Ivoire’s Teaching Manual (2007) provides in Book I (Basic instruction):
Surrendering enemy combatants
2. Disarm them:
- only take objects of military use,
- theft is prohibited.
In Book III, Volume 1 (Instruction of first-year trainee officers), the Teaching Manual provides:
III. Prisoners of war
III.2. Search and personal effects of prisoners
All prisoners must be disarmed and submitted to a thorough search. It is advisable to do this in a manner which does not violate the prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment, and which respects the special protection accorded to women and child soldiers. The following objects can be confiscated: ammunition, military documents such as topographical maps, orders, note-books containing military information, transmission networks, codes and any other military equipment which is not intended specifically for personal protection, such as straps intended for the transport of ammunition cases, etc.
Military clothes and protection equipment must be left with the prisoners, such as boots, helmets, bullet-proof vests, gas masks, etc. They are not yet out of danger and could need these clothes and protection equipment. Furthermore, the prisoners must be allowed to keep their badges of rank, utensils used for their feeding, rations and water bottles. They must also be allowed to keep their identity cards and tags. They can also keep their personal effects, such as spectacles, watches and objects which have a sentimental value, such as photographs of their family members. Sums of money carried by prisoners of war may not be taken away from them except by order of an officer, after the amounts have been recorded in a special register and an itemized receipt has been given. Sums in the currency of the Detaining Power, or which are changed into such currency at the prisoner’s request, shall be placed to the credit of the prisoner’s account.
The Detaining Power may withdraw articles of value from prisoners of war only for reasons of security; when such articles are withdrawn, the procedure laid down for sums of money impounded shall apply. Such objects, likewise the sums taken away shall be returned to prisoners of war at the end of their captivity. In practice, all these details and this bookkeeping can appear difficult to realize in the heat of action. If the situation and time do not allow all these procedures, the minimum of the basic demands must be respected, by leaving with the prisoners all objects which clearly are means of identification and of personal protection, as well as food and water. All the rest can be put into an appropriate receptacle, like the prisoner’s munitions case, clearly marked with his name, and be sent to the rear, where information officials or administrators can examine the articles and ultimately send back the personal effects to the prisoners of war.
In Book IV (Instruction of heads of division and company commanders), the Teaching Manual provides:
II.2.5. Possessions of POWs
POWs [prisoners of war] can keep all their movable possessions, with the exception of vehicles, arms and other military equipment or documents. Protection equipment (such as helmets, gas masks, vests, etc.) also remains in their possession. Clothes and utensils used for their feeding, even if they belong to their government, also remain in their possession, just like the badges of rank and nationality, and decorations. They can also keep objects of sentimental value. If they do not have identity cards or papers, they are supplied with such documents. …
Sums of money can be taken from a POW only by order of an officer, by recording the amount of these sums and the particulars of their owner in a register, and by giving him a receipt. Sums in the currency of the Detaining Power, or which are changed into such currency, shall be placed to the credit of the prisoner’s account …
All goods, other than those belonging to POWs, are regarded as booty. Booty belongs to the government or State, and not to the unit or person carrying out the capture.
II.2.7. Search and personal effects of POWs
All prisoners must be disarmed and submitted to a thorough search. It is advisable to do this in a manner which does not violate the prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment, and which respects the special protection accorded to women and child soldiers. Only war booty can be confiscated …, all other objects must be left with the POWs.