Practice Relating to Rule 52. Pillage
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) states: “Pillage, the violent acquisition of property for private purposes, is prohibited.”
The manual also provides that, in occupied territory:
Pillage is prohibited. Pillage is the seizure or destruction of enemy private or public property or money by representatives of a belligerent, usually soldiers, for private purposes. A soldier may under certain circumstances seize enemy property but, once such property has been seized, it belongs to the State which he is serving. He is not allowed to become a thief or a bandit merely because he is involved in a war. The rule against pillage is directed against all private acts of lawlessness committed against enemy property.
The manual also states that pillage is a war crime.
Likewise, “among other war crimes recognised by the customary law of armed conflict are … looting or gathering trophies”.
The manual also specifically states that, in the course of non-international armed conflicts, pillage is prohibited at any time and anywhere.
New Zealand’s Armed Forces Discipline Act (1971) provides:
Every person subject to this Act commits the offence of looting, and is liable to imprisonment for life, who –
(b) Steals any property which has been left unexposed or unprotected in consequence of any such war or operations as are mentioned in paragraph (a) of this section; or
(c) Appropriates, otherwise than on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen in right of New Zealand, any supplies of any description whatsoever captured from or abandoned by the enemy.
Under New Zealand’s International Crimes and ICC Act (2000), war crimes include the crimes defined in Article 8(2)(b)(xvi) and (e)(v) of the 1998 ICC Statute.