Geneva Convention at a glance
Since the capture of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, questions have been raised about his treatment particularly in terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention relevant to the treatment of prisoners of war.
Here are some facts about the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of captives:
- The Conventions came into force on 21 October 1950 after a series of international treaties concluded in Geneva on lessening the effects of war on soldiers and civilians.
- The Conventions state that prisoners of war must be treated humanely at all times.
- No form of coercion, physical or mental, may be used to obtain information.
- The International Committee of the Red Cross must be allowed access to the prisoner and under no restrictions.
- A trial should take place as soon as possible following investigations related to the prisoner.
- Article 100 states: “Prisoners of war… shall be informed as soon as possible of the offences which are punishable by the death sentence under the laws of the Detaining Power.”
- Prisoners must be protected from public curiosity.
By 2003, 189 countries were party to the Geneva Conventions. Signatories are obliged to uphold its principles and ensure other countries adhere to the Conventions.