Practice Relating to Rule 49. War Booty
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands provides:
Military material (weapons and ammunition in the first place) and other goods destined for military use (including stored goods) may be captured [as well as] goods of military significance which have been taken from prisoners. Medical goods and goods necessary to feed, clothe and otherwise protect prisoners do not constitute booty. Captured goods belong to the party to the armed conflict which has captured them and not to individual combatants. Captured goods may be used without restriction.
The manual further provides that “appropriation of personal property of prisoners of war” is an “ordinary breach” of the law of war.
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
Military equipment (primarily arms and ammunition) and other goods destined for military use (including goods in storage) may be seized. The same applies to goods of military significance, taken from captives. Seized goods belong to the party to the armed conflict which has taken possession of them, and not to individual combatants. Seized goods may not be used unrestrictedly. Medical supplies and goods needed to feed, clothe and otherwise protect captives do not constitute seized items …
They 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:
0721. Spoils of war
The following items are treated as spoils of war and should be confiscated from prisoners of war:
- arms and ammunition (firearms, bayonets, daggers and similar items);
- battle equipment (trenching tool, field glasses, radio, etc.);
- documents of military importance (maps, codes, orders, etc);
- sums of money and valuables are not treated as spoils of war, but must be taken from the prisoners of war against a receipt. This is to prevent their being used as aids to escape.
Certain items of equipment and personal effects may also be confiscated for security reasons (e.g. pocket knife, razor and other items which might make escape possible or easier).
0722. Airborne personnel
Airborne personnel have military equipment at their disposal for their personal protection (parachute, life jacket, dinghy, survival kit, etc). When airborne personnel are captured, they have either already used this equipment or no longer need it. These items may then be seized as spoils of war. At the same time, airborne personnel do not carry a number of items for personal protection, such as a gas mask or helmet. If these items are in stock, and there is a genuine threat, such items must, where present, be issued to them temporarily.