The law of war consist of the limits  set up by the International Law within which the force required to overpower the enemy is used and the principles thereunder governing the individual in the course of war and armed

The objective of the law of war is to limit the sufferings and pain of people who are involved in war and also to limit the area of war.

That is why the laws of war are often called the humanitarian laws of war.

In the absence of the laws of war, probably the cruelty and sufferings of people would have no limits.


Just to minimise the suffering, pain and horrific condition after the war the GENEVA CONVENTIONS 1949 lays down the following provision which set up the rules or regulations that must be followed.

The GENEVA CONVENTION on Prisoners of War, 1949: contains the following important provisions relating to the treatment of prisoners of war:

  1. The prisoners of war must all time be treated humanly treated. They should be treated with care without any harsh treatment – Article 13.
  2. Any unlawful act or omission by detaining power causing death or seriously endangering the health of the prisoners of war during in its custody is prohibited and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present convention – Article 14.
  3. No prisoner of war may be subjected to physical disfigurement or to any medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and
    carried out in his interest.
  4. Prisoners of war must at all time treated humanly, protected, particularly against act of violation or terrorization against insults and public curiosity.
  5. Measures of reprisal are prohibited against prisoners.
  6. Prisoners of war are entitled in all situation to respect of their persons and their honour – Article 14
  7. Prisoners of war shall retain in full civil capacity which they enjoy at the time of their capture. The detaining power may not restrict the exercise either within or without its territory of the rights which the convention
    confers except in so far as the captivity requires – Article 13.
  8. The power, detaining prisoners of war, shall be bound to provide free of charge for the maintenance, for the medical attention required by their state of health – Article 15.
  9. All the prisoners of war shall  be treated alike by the detaining
    power without any discrimination on the basis of race, nationality,
    religious belief or political opinions or any other distinction founded on similar criteria but any privileged treatment may be given to them by a reason of their state of health, age or professional qualifications -Article 16.
  10. No physical or mental torture nor any other form of harm shall not be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure or to obtain from them any kind of information whatever they have. Prisoners who refuse to answer shall not be threatened insulted or exposed to unpleasant disadvantageous treatment
    or any kind of harsh treatment.
  11. All things and articles of personal use shall be their possession except arms, horses, military equipment, military documents.
  12. Prisoners of war must be removed from the danger zone as soon as possible after their capture to camps situated in an area far enough from connected zone for them to be out of danger – Article 19.
  13. Badges of rank and nationality decorations and articles having above all personal or sentimental value may not be taken from prisoners of war.
  14. The detaining power may subject prisoners of war to internment [confinement].It may impose upon them the obligation of not leaving the area beyond certain limits of the camp where they are confined or if the said camp is fenced in stating not to go out of its perimeter. Prisoners of war may not be held in close confinement except where necessary to safeguard their health, and then only during the continuation of the situation which makes their confinement necessary – Article 21.
  15. Officers and prisoners of same status or equivalent status shall be treated with due regard for their rank and age.
  16. Prisoners of war other than officers and prisoners of equivalent rank shall be treated with due regard due to their rank and age.
  17. The detaining power shall grant all prisoners of war of a monthly allowances of pay, the amount of which shall be fixed by conversion, into the currency of the said power.
  18. Prisoners of war shall be allowed to send and receive letters and cards.


It is clear from the above provisions that these rules are made to ensure good treatment towards the prisoners of war. It has become general principle of international law that prisoners of war should be humanly treated. They shall not be subject to any harsh and uncivilised treatment.


Content Writer, Law Corner, B.A.LL.B(Hons), 5th Semester, Unity Law and PG college

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