Practice Relating to Rule 146. Reprisals against Protected Persons
Section A. Captured combatants and prisoners of war
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992), in the chapter dealing with prisoners of war and referring to Article 13 of the 1949 Geneva Convention III, states: “Reprisals against prisoners of war are prohibited.”
In the footnote relative to this provision, the manual states:
Since prisoners of war are in the Power of the Detaining Power, they are among the easiest victims for reprisal action and are, of themselves, unable to affect the conduct of their national government. The [1907 Hague Regulations] made no reference to this matter and during World War I prisoners were often made the object of reprisals. The ban on such action first appeared in the 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War, Art. 2. In accordance with the provisions of [the 1977 Additional Protocol I], reprisals are forbidden against all persons who are hors de combat, as well as against protected objects, the destruction of which would primarily affect such persons. During World War II the Germans fettered British prisoners of war claiming it as a reprisal for a raid on Sark in 1942, when five German captives had their hands tied so that they could be linked to their captors while being escorted to the boats of the raiding party. During the Dieppe raid, the Germans captured a Canadian order authorising the tying of prisoners’ hands, the Germans protested about the order, which was subsequently described as unauthorised and countermanded.
In the chapter dealing with reprisals and referring to Article 13 of the 1949 Geneva Convention I and Article 44 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the manual further states: “Reprisals against the following categories of persons and objects are prohibited … prisoners of war”.