Art 126. Representatives or delegates of the Protecting Powers shall have
permission to go to all places where prisoners of war may be, particularly
to places of internment, imprisonment and labour, and shall have access to
all premises occupied by prisoners of war; they shall also be allowed to go
to the places of departure, passage and arrival of prisoners who are being
transferred. They shall be able to interview the prisoners, and in
particular the prisoners' representatives, without witnesses, either
personally or through an interpreter.
Representatives and delegates of the Protecting Powers shall have full
liberty to select the places they wish to visit. The duration and frequency
of these visits shall not be restricted. Visits may not be prohibited except
for reasons of imperative military necessity, and then only as an
exceptional and temporary measure.
The Detaining Power and the Power on which the said prisoners of war
depend may agree, if necessary, that compatriots of these prisoners of war
be permitted to participate in the visits.
The delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross shall enjoy
the same prerogatives. The appointment of such delegates shall be submitted
to the approval of the Power detaining the prisoners of war to be visited.
Art 127. The High Contracting Parties undertake, in time of peace as in
time of war, to disseminate the text of the present Convention as widely as
possible in their respective countries, and, in particular, to include the
study thereof in their programmes of military and, if possible, civil
instruction, so that the principles thereof may become known to all their
armed forces and to the entire population.
Any military or other authorities, who in time of war assume
responsibilities in respect of prisoners of war, must possess the text of
the Convention and be specially instructed as to its provisions.
Art 128. The High Contracting Parties shall communicate to one another
through the Swiss Federal Council and, during hostilities, through the
Protecting Powers, the official translations of the present Convention, as
well as the laws and regulations which they may adopt to ensure the
Art 129. The High Contracting Parties undertake to enact any legislation
necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or
ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present
Convention defined in the following Article.
Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for
persons alleged to have committed. or to have ordered to be committed, such
grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their
nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in
accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons
over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such
High Contracting Party has made out a prima facie case.
Each High Contracting Party shall take measures necessary for the
suppression of all acts contrary to the provisions of the present Convention
other than the grave breaches defined in the following Article.
In all circumstances, the accused persons shall benefit by safeguards of
proper trial and defence, which shall not be less favourable than those
provided by Article 105 and those following of the present Convention.
Art 130. Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be
those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons
orproperty protected by the Convention: wilful killing, torture or inhuman
treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great
suffering or serious injury to body or health, compelling a prisoner of war
to serve in the forces of the hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a
prisoner of war of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in this
Art 131. No High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or
any other High Contracting Party of any liability incurred by itself or by
another High Contracting Party in respect of breaches referred to in the
Art 132. At the request of a Party to the conflict, an enquiry shall be
instituted, in a manner to be decided between the interested Parties,
concerning any alleged violation of the Convention.
If agreement has not been reached concerning the procedure for the
enquiry, the Parties should agree on the choice of an umpire who will decide
upon the procedure to be followed.
Once the violation has been established, the Parties to the conflict
shall put an end to it and shall repress it with the least possible delay.
Section II. Final Provisions
Art 133. The present Convention is established in English and in French.
Both texts are equally authentic.
The Swiss Federal Council shall arrange for official translations of the
Convention to be made in the Russian and Spanish languages.
Art 134. The present Convention replaces the Convention of July 27, 1929,
in relations between the High Contracting Parties.
Art 135. In the relations between the Powers which are bound by the Hague
Convention respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, whether that of
July 29, 1899, or that of October 18, 1907, and which are parties to the
present Convention, this last Convention shall be complementary to Chapter
II of the Regulations annexed to th above-mentioned Conventions of the
Art 136. The present Convention, which bears the date of this day, is
open to signature until February 12, 1950, in the name of the Powers
represented at the Conference which opened at Geneva on April 21, 1949;
furthermore, by Powers not represented at that Conference, but which are
parties to the Convention of July 27, 1929.
Art 137. The present Convention shall be ratified as soon as possible and
the ratifications shall be deposited at Berne.
A record shall be drawn up of the deposit of each instrument of
ratification and certified copies of this record shall be transmitted by the
Swiss Federal Council to all the Powers in whose name the Convention has
been signed, or whose accession has been notified.
Art 138. The present Convention shall come into force six months after
not less than two instruments of ratification have been deposited.
Thereafter, it shall come into force for each High Contracting Party six
months after the deposit of the instrument of ratification.
Art 139. From the date of its coming into force, it shall be open to any
Power in whose name the present Convention has not been signed, to accede to
Art 140. Accessions shall be notified in writing to the Swiss Federal
Council, and shall take effect six months after the date on which they are
The Swiss Federal Council shall communicate the accessions to all the
Powers in whose name the Convention has been signed, or whose accession has
Art 141. The situations provided for in Articles 2 and 3 shall give
immediate effect to ratifications deposited and accessions notified by the
Parties to the conflict before or after the beginning of hostilities or
occupation. The Swiss Federal Council shall communicate by the quickest
method any ratifications or accessions received from Parties to the
Art 142. Each of the High Contracting Parties shall be at liberty to
denounce the present Convention.
The denunciation shall be notified in writing to the Swiss Federal
Council, which shall transmit it to the Governments of all the High
The denunciation shall take effect one year after the notification
thereof has been made to the Swiss Federal Council. However, a denunciation
of which notification has been made at a time when the denouncing Power is
involved in a conflict shall not take effect until peace has been concluded,
and until after operations connected with release and repatriation of the
persons protected by the present Convention have been terminated.
The denunciation shall have effect only in respect of the denouncing
Power. It shall in no way impair the obligations which the Parties to the
conflict shall remain bound to fulfil by virtue of the principles of the law
of nations, as they result from the usages established among civilized
peoples, from the laws of humanity and the dictates of the public
Art 143. The Swiss Federal Council shall register the present Convention
with the Secretariat of the United Nations. The Swiss Federal Council shall
also inform the Secretariat of the United Nations of all ratifications,
accessions and denunciations received by it with respect to the present
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned, having deposited their respective
full powers, have signed the present Convention.
DONE at Geneva this twelfth day of August 1949, in the English and French
languages. The original shall be deposited in the Archives of the Swiss
Confederation. The Swiss Federal Council shall transmit certified copies
thereof to each of the signatory and acceding States.