Practice Relating to Rule 118. Provision of Basic Necessities to Persons Deprived of Their Liberty
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands states that prisoners shall be provided with adequate food, clothing and accommodation.
The manual also states: “Prisoners of war shall be allowed to receive parcels, in particular foodstuffs, clothing, medical supplies and articles of a recreational character (books, sports outfits, musical instruments).”
The Military Handbook (1995) of the Netherlands provides that it is forbidden to take the clothes and food of prisoners of war. It adds: “Food shall be sufficient to keep prisoners of war in good health and to prevent loss of weight.”
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
The State must afford protection to persons who have fallen into its power.
- The captive is not in the power of the troops who have captured him, but [in] the power to which those troops belong.
- The hostile State is responsible for the conditions and care of the persons in its charge …
The manual states that during the evacuation of prisoners of war, “drinking water and food at least must be provided in adequate amounts. Sufficient clothing and medical attention must also be available.”
The manual also states:
Medical supplies and goods needed to feed, clothe and otherwise protect captives] cannot be diverted from their intended purpose while they are needed for the care of the wounded and sick. They cannot be used, even in case of compelling military necessity, unless the necessary steps have first been taken to supply the sick and wounded in care. Medical supplies may not be deliberately destroyed.
The manual further states:
Prisoners of war must be accommodated in conditions as favourable as those for the forces of the detaining power, billeted in the same area. … Daily food rations should be sufficient to keep the prisoners of war in good health. Weight loss or disorders due to shortage of certain substances must be prevented. Account must be taken of the diet to which the prisoners of war were accustomed. … Collective disciplinary measures relating to food are prohibited. Clothing and footwear must be issued, taking account of the climate of the area where the prisoners are held. Uniforms seized by the detaining power may be used for this purpose. Canteens must be set up in the camps to provide foodstuffs and items for daily use (soap, cigarettes, etc.).
0727. As regards hygiene, the requisite measures must be taken to ensure a good state of health in the camps and to prevent epidemics. Thus there must be sufficient toilets, baths and showers present. Every camp must be provided with a suitable infirmary. The prisoners of war should preferably receive medical attention from medical personnel from their own countries. Prisoners of war suffering from serious illness or whose condition necessitates an operation or hospital care must be placed in a military or civilian hospital. Medical inspections of prisoners of war must be carried out at least once per month, to check general conditions of health and detect contagious diseases (tuberculosis, malaria, sexually transmitted diseases, etc.).
0741. Prisoners of war may also receive parcels or shipments, especially of food, clothing, medical necessities and items for improvement and recreation (books, sports requisites, musical instruments, etc.).
In addition, the manual provides:
In internal armed conflicts in which members of the Dutch armed forces are involved, all captured members of the military and all captured members of dissident militias and other armed groups should be treated in the same way as prisoners of war. Any further legal steps to be taken against individual members of such movements may be taken only as instructed by competent courts or other authorized bodies or authorities.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states:
Persons whose freedom is limited
1063. This concerns people who have been deprived of their freedom or whose freedom is restricted in any way, in connection with the armed conflict. It makes no difference whether deprivation of freedom takes the form of internment or imprisonment. AP II [1977 Additional Protocol II] prescribes no special regime for prisoners of war. It does not discriminate as to whether someone has been taken prisoner as a “participant in the hostilities” or on suspicion, e.g., of having “incited to armed uprising against the lawful authority” or of having spied for any party.
1064. For those who have been deprived of their freedom, rules have been drawn up which go further than the fundamental guarantees:
- proper medical treatment;
- right to receive individual or collective help;
- right to practise their religion and receive spiritual assistance;
- the same entitlement as the local population to food, drinking water and protection against the weather and the dangers of the conflict.
In its chapter on peace operations, the manual states:
1225. Treatment of detainees
(For an extended summary, see chapter 7; see also Guidelines section 8 below). During peace operations, it may happen that persons have to be detained. This may derive from the mandate received by the peace force. As a rule, such persons are criminals who are guilty of war crimes or common criminal offences, inasmuch as the peace force is responsible, e.g., for law and order.
1226. The RoE [Rules of Engagement] should describe when, and in what circumstances, people may be taken prisoner and held. Instructions on how to act after this, e.g., what rights the detainees have, should not be omitted. If such RoE are missing in a given case, it is possible to refer for guidance to, and act on, the provisions of the Third Geneva Convention.
That Convention gives a number of minimum requirements for taking prisoners and detention. It deals with this subject in such detail that the Convention can be used as a sort of checklist. This relates mainly to rules on the necessary terms under which prisoners are held. Every detainee should be treated with human dignity. A detainee may not be condemned or punished without prior judgment by an impartial court and due process. Detainees must also be treated equally. On capture, persons must be disarmed, searched and registered. Personal effects and personal protection remain in the detainee’s possession. Interrogation of detainees is permitted, but physical or mental torture or exposure to any form of coercion whatsoever is not permitted. As a rule, interrogation should take place by, or with the cooperation of, the police or legally trained personnel. This does not apply to prisoners of war, but to personnel presumed to have committed criminal acts. The actual detention entails strict requirements concerning food, shelter, medical care, clothing and hygiene. Facilities must also be created for detainees to enjoy freedom of worship, study and sport. More detailed rules apply to detained women and children. Every detainee is entitled to maintain contact with the outside world, and it is obvious that the ICRC should be called upon to visit the peace force’s prison camps and give further advice.
1227. The rules of the Third [Geneva] Convention concerning who is, or is not, a prisoner of war and the acquisition of a certain status definitely do not apply. They apply exclusively to a party taking prisoners in an armed conflict. Nevertheless, while there are no prisoners of war in an official sense, a detainee has the right of direct access to a judge.