Practice Relating to Rule 96. Hostage-Taking
Italy’s IHL Manual (1991) prohibits hostage-taking and states that the taking of hostages is a war crime.
Italy’s LOAC Elementary Rules Manual (1991) prohibits hostage-taking.
Italy’s Combatant’s Manual (1998) instructs: “Do not take hostages”.
Italy’s Wartime Military Penal Code (1941), as amended in 2002, states:
Any military person who violates the prohibition of hostage taking established by the rules on international armed conflicts is to be punished with two to ten years military imprisonment.
In 1976, during a debate in the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly, Italy stated that the odious practice of taking hostages was clearly condemned under the modern rules of war. It further stated:
Each time a hostage had been taken, those responsible have been disowned by the organisations for which they had claimed to act, showing that the practice was condemned in respect of both international and non-international armed conflict … The need was therefore not to protect any particular category of persons but simply to devise an effective ban on the practice of taking hostages as such, in view of its inhuman nature, which was an affront to the bases of the social conscience.
Italy also recalled UN General Assembly Resolution 2645 (XXV) of 1970, Article 34 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV and common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and declared that the proposed convention on the taking of hostages was entirely in keeping with the evolution of IHL.
In 1979, during a debate in the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly, Italy commented on the outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of a Convention against the Taking of Hostages and stated that the taking of hostages was one of the greatest evils of modern times and an act which, even in wartime, was considered an international crime.