Geneva Conventions Act 1957

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1957 c. 52


Geneva Conventions Act , 1957

(5 & 6 Eliz. 2) CHAPTER 52

An Act to enable effect to be given to certain international conventions done at Geneva on the twelfth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty-nine, and for purposes connected therewith.

Whereas , with a view to the ratification by Her Majesty of the conventions set out in the Schedules to this Act, it is expedient to make certain amendments in the law:

Be it therefore enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Punishment of offenders against conventions

Punishment of offenders against conventions

S-1 Grave breaches of scheduled conventions.

1 Grave breaches of scheduled conventions.

(1) Any person, whatever his nationality, who, whether in or outside the United Kingdom, commits, or aids, abets or procures the commission by any other person of, any such grave breach of any of the scheduled conventions as is referred to in the following articles respectively of those conventions, that is to say—

(a ) article 50 of the convention set out in the First Schedule to this Act;

(b ) article 51 of the convention set out in the Second Schedule to this Act;

(c ) article 130 of the convention set out in the Third Schedule to this Act; or

(d ) article 147 of the convention set out in the Fourth Schedule to this Act,

shall be guilty of felony and on conviction thereof—

(i) in the case of such a grave breach as aforesaid involving the wilful killing of a person protected by the convention in question, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life;

(ii) in the case of any other such grave breach as aforesaid, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

(2) In the case of an offence under this section committed outside the United Kingdom, a person may be proceeded against, indicted, tried and punished therefor in any place in the United Kingdom as if the offence had been committed in that place, and the offence shall, for all purposes incidental to or consequential on the trial or punishment thereof, be deemed to have been committed in that place.

(3) Neither a court of quarter sessions nor, in Scotland, the sheriff shall have jurisdiction to try an offence under this section, and proceedings for such an offence shall not be instituted in England except by or on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions or in Northern Ireland without the consent of the Attorney General for Northern Ireland.

(4) If in proceedings under this section in respect of a grave breach of any of the scheduled conventions any question arises under article 2 of that convention (which relates to the circumstances in which the convention applies), that question shall be determined by the Secretary of State and a certificate purporting to set out any such determination and to be signed by or on behalf of the Secretary of State shall be received in evidence and be deemed to be so signed without further proof, unless the contrary is shown.

(5) The enactments relating to the trial by court-martial of persons who commit civil offences shall have effect for the purposes of the jurisdiction of courts-martial convened in the United Kingdom as if this section had not been passed.

Provisions as to certain legal proceedings

Provisions as to certain legal proceedings

S-2 Notice of trial of protected persons to be served onprotecting power, etc.

2 Notice of trial of protected persons to be served onprotecting power, etc.

(1) The court before which—

(a ) a protected prisoner of war is brought up for trial for any offence; or

(b ) a protected internee is brought up for trial for an offence for which that court has power to sentence him to death or to imprisonment for a term of two years or more,

shall not proceed with the trial until it is proved to the satisfaction of the court that a notice containing the particulars mentioned in the next following subsection, so far as they are known to the prosecutor, has been served not less than three weeks previously on the protecting power and, if the accused is a protected prisoner of war, on the accused and the prisoners' representative.

(2) The particulars referred to in the foregoing subsection are—

(a ) the full name and description of the accused, including the date of his birth and his profession or trade, if any, and, if the accused is a protected prisoner of war, his rank and army, regimental, personal or serial number;

(b ) his place of detention, internment or residence;

(c ) the offence with which he is charged; and

(d ) the court before which the trial is to take place and the time and place appointed for the trial.

(3) For the purposes of this section a document purporting—

(a ) to be signed on behalf of the protecting power or by the prisoners' representative or by the person accused, as the case may be; and

(b ) to be an acknowledgment of the receipt by that power, representative or person on a specified day of a notice described therein as a notice under this section,

shall, unless the contrary is shown, be sufficient evidence that the notice required by subsection (1) of this section was served on that power, representative or person on that day.

(4) In this section the expression ‘prisoners' representative’ in relation to a particular protected prisoner of war at a particular time means the person by whom the functions of prisoners' representative within the meaning of article 79 of the convention set out in the Third Schedule to this Act were exercisable in relation to that prisoner at the camp or place at which that prisoner was, at or last before that time, detained as a protected prisoner of war.

(5) Any court which adjourns a trial for the purpose of enabling the requirements of this section to be complied with may, notwithstanding anything in any other enactment, remand the accused for the period of the adjournment.

S-3 Legal representation of certain persons.

3 Legal representation of certain persons.

(1) The court before which—

(a ) any person is brought up for trial for an offence under section one of this Act; or

(b ) a protected prisoner of war is brought up for trial for any offence,

shall not proceed with the trial unless—

(i) the accused is represented by counsel; and

(ii) it is proved to the satisfaction of the court that a period of not less than fourteen days has elapsed since instructions for the representation of the accused at the trial were first given to the solicitor by whom that counsel was instructed,

and if the court adjourns the trial for the purpose of enabling the requirements of this subsection to be complied with, then, notwithstanding anything in any other enactment, the court may remand the accused for the period of the adjournment.

(2) Where the accused is a protected prisoner of war, in the absence of counsel accepted by the accused as representing him, counsel instructed for the purpose on behalf of the protecting power shall, without prejudice to the requirements of paragraph (ii) of the foregoing subsection, be regarded for the purposes of that subsection as representing the accused.

(3) If the court adjourns the trial in pursuance of subsection (1) of this section by reason that the accused is not represented by counsel, the court shall direct that a solicitor and counsel be assigned to watch over the interests of the accused at any further proceedings in connection with the offence, and at any such further proceedings, in the absence of counsel either accepted by the accused as representing him or instructed as mentioned in the last foregoing subsection, counsel assigned in pursuance of this subsection shall, without prejudice to the requirements of paragraph (ii) of the said subsection (1), be regarded for the purposes of that subsection as representing the accused.

(4) In relation to any proceedings before a court before which the accused may be heard by a solicitor, the foregoing provisions of this section shall be construed, with any necessary modifications, as if references therein to counsel were references to counsel or a solicitor, and for the purposes of any such proceedings the court in giving a direction under the last foregoing subsection may, if the court is satisfied that the nature of the charge and the interests of justice do not require that the interests of the accused should be watched over by counsel, direct that a solicitor only shall be assigned as mentioned in that subsection.

(5) A solicitor or counsel shall be assigned in pursuance of subsection (3) of this section in such manner as Her Majesty may by Order in Council prescribe, and any solicitor or counsel so assigned shall be entitled to be paid by the Secretary of State out of moneys provided by Parliament such sums in respect of fees and disbursements as the Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument prescribe.

S-4 Appeals by protected persons.

4 Appeals by protected persons.

(1) Where a protected prisoner of war or a protected internee has been sentenced to death or to imprisonment for a term of two years or more, the time within which he must give notice of appeal or notice of his application for leave to appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal, the High Court of...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT