United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Related to Rule 95. Forced Labour
Section B. Compelling persons to serve in the forces of a hostile power
The UK Military Manual (1958) provides: “Protected persons of enemy nationality … must not be required to do work directly related to the conduct of military operations.” The compelling of prisoners of war and civilians to serve in the forces of the hostile power is strictly prohibited.
The manual also states that “compelling a prisoner of war to serve in the forces of the hostile power” is a war crime. It adds that “compelling a person to serve in the forces of the hostile power” is a war crime under the 1949 Geneva Convention IV.
Under the UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981), it is prohibited “to compel enemy nationals to take part in operations against their own country, even if they were in your service before the outbreak of hostilities”.
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states: “It is … a grave breach of [the 1949] Geneva Convention III to compel a prisoner of war to serve in the forces of the hostile power.”
In its chapter on occupied territory, the manual provides:
The occupying power can create punishable offences in the interests of its security or that of the population in the occupied territory. It cannot compel the population of occupied territory to acknowledge its sovereignty. That means that civilians cannot be required to:
a. take part in operations against their own country;
b. assist the war effort of the occupying power against their own country;
c. serve in the armed or auxiliary forces of the occupying power;
d. give information to the occupying power about their own armed forces or other defence information.
The manual further states:
The Hague Regulations 1907 are now recognized as part of customary law. Those regulations provide that the following acts are “especially forbidden”:
i. to compel the nationals of the hostile party to take part in the operations of war directed against their own country, even if they were in the belligerent’s service before the commencement of the war.
The UK Geneva Conventions Act (1957), as amended in 1995, punishes “any person, whatever his nationality, who, whether in or outside the United Kingdom, commits, or aids, abets or procures the commission by any other person of, a grave breach of any of the [1949 Geneva] conventions”.
Under the UK ICC Act (2001), it is a punishable offence to commit a war crime as defined in Article 8(2)(a)(vi) and (b)(xv) of the 1998 ICC Statute.