Human rights under the Geneva Convention

POWs were to be removed quickly from the battle area. If wounded, they were entitled to adequate medical treatment, and housing and food supplies were to be no worse than those for garrison troops. POWs enjoyed certain rights, for example: all servicemen were allowed to refuse all information, with the exception of their name, rank or service number, to practice any religion, and could in theory correspond with family and friends. Any escapee recaptured by prison guards would endure no worse than one month’s solitary confinement, and the International Red Cross committee was to inspect all permanent camps.

The Far East

Conditions in the Far East where the Geneva Convention was not recognised were appalling. In Japanese society in the 1940s it was considered dishonourable to surrender and there was nothing but contempt for POWs, and no attempt was made to treat them humanely. Many died in Japanese POW camps. Over 190,000 British, Commonwealth, Dutch and American servicemen became prisoners of the Japanese and many were forced to labour in support of the Japanese war effort. Most notoriously, more than 60,000 POWs were employed on the construction and maintenance of the Burma–Siam railway and about a quarter of these prisoners died as a direct result of the work.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 21/11/2011.

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