Practice Relating to Rule 87. Humane Treatment
Switzerland’s Basic Military Manual (1987) provides: “Foreigners of enemy nationality who are in the territory of one of the parties to the conflict or in occupied territory must in all cases be treated humanely.”
The manual adds that the 1977 Additional Protocol II and common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions are applicable during internal armed conflicts and contain “some minimal guarantees for persons involved in the conflict”.
Switzerland’s Aide-Memoire on the Ten Basic Rules of the Law of Armed Conflict (2005) states:
I spare persons that surrender or are hors de combat. I can therefore also expect the enemy to treat me humanely.
I treat people that fall into my hands humanely. I disarm them and hand them over to my superior. They have to be protected from any kind of attack.
In 2005, in a report in response to a parliamentary postulate on private security and military companies, Switzerland’s Federal Council stated:
International humanitarian law is aimed not only at states
. It also contains numerous provisions for individuals and even civilians to observe. Perhaps the most well known example is Article 3 common to all four Geneva Conventions
, according to which persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed “hors de combat” by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated human[e]ly, without violence to life and person, in particular mutilation, torture and cruel treatment.
[footnote in original omitted; emphasis in original]
In 2009, in its Report on Foreign Policy, Switzerland’s Federal Council stated:
Swiss foreign policy is very strongly committed to issues of human security and international humanitarian law … This consists of, in the first place, defending the individual rights of persons in times of peace and in times of war, to protect them from arbitrariness and cruel treatment, and – with the support of other States and private actors – negotiating and respecting rules imposing humane behaviour regardless of the situation.
[emphasis in original]
In 2012, Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs issued a press release entitled “Appeal by the Swiss authorities for compliance with international humanitarian law in Syria”, which stated: “Persons who are not or no longer taking part in the hostilities must be treated humanely without any discrimination. This is especially important in the case of detainees.”