Practice Related to Rule 95. Forced Labour
In its judgement in the Roechling case
in 1948, the General Tribunal at Rastadt of the Military Government for the French Zone of Occupation in Germany held the accused guilty of forcing prisoners of war to work in the German metallurgical industry, whose output was directly connected with the operations of war. The Tribunal considered that the use of the term “operations of war” should be understood as envisaging a prohibition of the employment of prisoners of war in work capable of increasing the war potential of the enemy.
France’s Disciplinary Regulations (1975), as amended, prohibits “compelling nationals of the adverse party to take part in war operations against their own country”.
France’s LOAC Summary Note (1992) stipulates that “compelling [prisoners of war] to serve in enemy armed forces” is a war crime under the law of armed conflict.
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) provides that prisoners of war “shall not be compelled to take part in activities with a military character or objective”.
France’s Penal Code (1992), as amended in 2010, states that the following acts committed by someone acting on behalf of a belligerent power constitute war crimes in an international armed conflict:
1. Compelling a person protected by the international law of armed conflict to serve in its armed forces;
Compelling nationals of the hostile power to take part in the operations of war directed against their own country, even if they were in the service of the belligerent power before the commencement of the war.
In its judgement in the Wagner case
in 1946, the Permanent Military Tribunal at Strasbourg in France ruled that the introduction of compulsory military service for Alsatian civilians was a war crime.