The Geneva Conventions are international treaties containing rules restricting how wars are fought. They are based on common decency, right, and justice.

Geneva Convention

Article 12 Under Part II and Article 12 of the Geneva Convention, prisoners of war are considered to be the captives of the enemy power, not the individuals or military units who take them into custody. As a result, the enemy power's government, not the individuals or military teams, is responsible for these prisoners' treatment. This prevents authorities from turning a blind eye to the actions of their soldiers and makes them directly accountable for the treatment of prisoners of war.

Moreover, suppose the enemy power intends to transfer custody of the prisoner. In that case, it must only do so to another Convention signatory after ensuring that the country in question wants to apply ethical treatment under the Convention. If it fails, the original enemy power may still be liable.

Article 13 Broadly, a prisoner of war is meant to be entirely free from exposure to threats of physical violence, torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, physical or mental coercion, and humiliating and degrading treatment.

Other POWs Laws

When dealing with prisoners of war (POWs), several international agreements and conventions regulate the treatment of those in custody during armed conflict.

For example, there is Article 4(A) of the Geneva Convention guarantees the following for all fit POWs:

(i) the right to refuse to take an oath;
(ii) the right to communicate at all times with and receive visits from representatives of their family and of the International Committee of the Red Cross;
(iii) the right to receive relief supplies, weekly food parcels, clothing, footwear, toiletries, and other articles intended for their personal use;
(iv) the right to send a communication or letter, as well as to receive one, at regular intervals;
(v) the right to accept any relief or employment offered to them;
(vi) freedom from intimidation and insults and interference with their privacy;
(vii) the opportunity to establish and maintain contact with their family; and
(viii) the prohibition on compelling them to enlist in their country's military or undertake any military activities.

POWs are also often entitled to medical care, but this may vary by Convention, as some traditions limit the definition of "POW" to combatants. In contrast, others define it according to geographical location or lawful detention, which results in additional protections against inhumane treatment during wartime.