The occupying power may not compel protected persons to serve in its armed forces, nor may it compel them to work
unless they are over eighteen years old, and then only on work that: (1) is necessary for the needs of the occupying force;
(2) is necessary for public utility services; or (3) for the feeding, sheltering, clothing, transportation or health of the
populace of the occupied country. The occupied country's labor laws regarding such matters as wages, hours, and
compensation for occupational accidents and diseases remain applicable to the protected persons assigned to work by the
occupant. GC Art. 51; see H. IV. Regs. Art. 23.
The occupying power is specifically prohibited from forcing the inhabitants to take part in military operations against
their own country, and this precludes requiring their services in work directly promoting the military efforts of the
occupying force, such as construction of fortifications, entrenchments, and military airfields. See GC Art. 51. However,
the inhabitants may be employed voluntarily in such activities.
Security of the Occupying Force: Penal Law and Procedure
The occupant is authorized to demand and enforce the populace's obedience as necessary for the security of the
occupying forces, the maintenance of law and order, and the proper administration of the country. The inhabitants are
obliged to behave peaceably and take no part in hostilities.
If the occupant considers it necessary, as a matter of imperative security needs, it may assign protected persons
to specific residences or internment camps. GC Art. 78. The occupying power may also enact penal law provisions, but
these may not come into force until they have been published and otherwise brought to the knowledge of the inhabitants
in their own language. Penal provisions shall not have retroactive effect. GC Art. 65.
The occupying power's tribunals may not impose sentences for violation of penal laws until after a regular trial.
The accused person must be informed in writing in his own language of the charges against him, and is entitled to the
assistance of counsel at trial, to present evidence and call witnesses, and to be assisted by an interpreter. The occupying
power shall notify the protecting power of all penal proceedings it institutes in occupied territory. Sentences shall be
proportionate to the offense committed. The accused, if convicted, shall have a right to appeal under the provisions of the
tribunal's procedures or, if no appeal is provided for, he is entitled to petition against his conviction and sentence to the
competent authority of the occupying power. GC, Arts. 72, 73.
Under the provisions of the GC, the occupying power may impose the death penalty on a protected person only
if found guilty of espionage or serious acts of sabotage directed against the occupying power, or of intentional offenses
causing the death of one or more persons, provided that such offenses were punishable by death under the law of the
occupied territory in force before the occupation began. GC Art. 68. However, the United States has reserved the right to
impose the death penalty for such offenses resulting in homicide irrespective of whether such offenses were previously
capital offenses under the law of the occupied state. In any case, the death penalty may not be imposed by the occupying
power on any protected person who was under the age of eighteen years at the time of the offense. GC Art. 68.
The occupying power must promptly notify the protecting power of any sentence of death or imprisonment for
two years or more, and no death sentence may be carried out until at least six months after such notification. GC Arts. 74,
The occupying power is prohibited from imposing mass punishments on the populace for the offenses of
individuals. That is, "No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the populations on account of
the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible." H. IV. Regs Art. 50; see
GC, Art. 33.
In areas occupied by United States forces, military jurisdiction over individuals, other than members of the U.S.
armed forces, is exercised by courts of the military government. Although sometimes designated by other names, these
military tribunals are actually military commissions. They preside in and for the occupied territory and thus exercise their
jurisdiction on a territorial basis.
Law of War