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13 Protection of Prisoners in Armed Conflict

Dieter Fleck

From: The Handbook of International Humanitarian Law (4th Edition)

Edited By: Dieter Fleck

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 22 September 2023

Detention — Prisoners of war — Armed conflict

This chapter discusses the legal protection of prisoners in any armed conflict and prisoner-of-war status in international armed conflicts. The protection of prisoners in armed conflict is based on ethical, military, and political elements. The humane treatment derives from fundamental legal obligations and the conviction that captured enemies no longer pose any threat to the lives of persons nor to the detaining power. While specific forms and procedures of treatment may be influenced by the former conduct of the prisoner during the combat, for example the use of prohibited weapons, attacks against protected persons, or perfidious acts, standard rules of protection apply. These are deeply rooted in international humanitarian law and human rights. Military considerations also play an important role in the treatment of prisoners in armed conflict. In principle, prisoners are of military value to the adversary. They can be used as sources of information or to influence their comrades who are still fighting. On the other hand, taking and detaining prisoners can impede the detaining power's military operations.

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