Prisoners Of War Essay

2227 words - 9 pages

Throughout history, prisoners of war have been mistreated. In the early history of warfare, there was recognition of a prisoner of war status. The defeated enemy was either killed or enslaved by the victor (Encyclopedia Britannica). During the time of the Aztecs, a prisoner’s negotiation option was to have their heart cut out (Smallwood). Until 1929, no one cared about the treatment of Prisoners of war because there was no greater power to stop the captors from mistreating them. But when the Geneva Conventions were signed, there was something to stop the detaining power from inhumane treatment. Still, countries mistreated their prisoners of war. In WWII, Japanese POW camps tortured, performed Unit 731 experiments, and executed their prisoners (Historyonthenet.com, Listverse). In the Vietnam War, prisoners were kept in tiger cages, beaten with clubs, and sometimes even hung on metal hooks (Pribbinow, Smallwood). Even though the third and fourth Conventions protect POWs, militias, and citizens, the countries who signed them don’t always obey them. So, where is the line drawn? What are the rights and responsibilities of POWs and the detaining power?
You may have heard of the Geneva Convention in movies or television programs. Usually, the character is referring to the fourth Geneva Convention, written in 1949(Schading, Schading, Slayton 206-14), which is relative to the protection of citizens during a time of conflict. The Geneva Conventions are a series of documents generated by the world’s leading nations that set rules that apply to all conflicts, rules that apply to certain conflicts, and rules that are based on other international treaties (Schading, et.all. 206-14). The third Geneva Convention, which is relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, protects all military personnel who have been taken prisoner in a time of war (Schading, et., all. 206-14). A prisoner of war is any person or combatant captured or interned by a higher power during a time of war (Encyclopedia Britannica). The Conventions state that any prisoner of war, or POW, must not be put on public display, be exposed to unnecessary danger, used as a human shield, or be the subject of torture or medical and scientific experimentation (Schading, et., al. 206-14). POWs cannot be punished for acts they committed during the fighting, prosecuted for murder by shooting a clearly identified enemy soldier, attacked if ejecting for distress reasons, or attacked if incapable of defending him or herself (Schading, et., al. 206-14). Prisoners of war must be protected from violence, intimidation, insults, public curiosity, humiliating and degrading treatment, cruel treatment, and torture (Schading, et., al. 206-14). Prisoners must also be protected from discrimination, mutilation, and sentencing or execution without a fair trial (Schading, et., al. 206-14). Schading states that “combatants who willfully violate the rules about clear separation between combatants and noncombatants, or...

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