Centre for Military Ethics

Medical Resources

Care of prisoners/detainees

This section includes general materials on care of prisoners/detainees

Key references

Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. 10 Dec 1987
Principles of Medical Ethics relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, particularly Physicians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. UN General Assembly resolution 37/1

Academic Papers

Wilks M. A stain on medical ethics. The Lancet. 2005 Aug 6;366(9484):429-31.
Pont, J. (2008), "Ethics in research involving prisoners", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 184-197
Miles SH, Freedman AM. Medical ethics and torture: revising the Declaration of Tokyo. Lancet. 2009 Jan 24;373(9660):344-8.
Rubenstein LS, Annas GJ. Medical ethics at Guantanamo Bay detention centre and in the US military: a time for reform. The Lancet. 2009 Jul 25;374(9686):353-5.
Moy RJ. Ethical Dilemmas in Providing Medical Care to Captured Persons on Operations. BMJ Military Health 2012;158:6-9.
Simpson RG, Wilson D, Tuck JJ. Medical management of Captured Persons. BMJ Military Health 2014;160:4-8.
Charles A, Rid A, Davies H, et al. Prisoners as research participants: current practice and attitudes in the UK. Journal of Medical Ethics 2016;42:246-252.
Xenakis, S.N. (2018). Ethical Challenges in Treating Detainees and Prisoners of War. In: Roberts, L., Warner, C. (eds) Military and Veteran Mental Health. Springer, New York, NY.
Evans NG, Sisti DA, Moreno JD. Ethical considerations on the complicity of psychologists and scientists in torture. BMJ Military Health 2019;165:248-255.
Annas GJ, Crosby S. US military medical ethics in the War on Terror. BMJ Military Health 2019;165:303-306.
Khaji, A., Tabatabaei, S., Mashkoori, A. Protection of Prisoners of War from Torture with Proper Selection of Soldiers Taking Care of POWs: An Ethical View. Trauma Monthly, 2020; 25(2): 67-70. doi: 10.30491/tm.2020.213548.1020
Lillywhite L. Medical services policy in respect of detainees: evolution and outstanding issues. BMJ Mil Health. 2021 Feb 1;167(1):23-6.

Videos and other media

EXPLAINED: Prisoners of war and the Third Geneva Convention ICRC

Policy Publications

World Medical Association. Declaration Of Tokyo – Guidelines For Physicians Concerning Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment In Relation To Detention And Imprisonment. Revised by the 67th WMA General Assembly, Taipei, Taiwa
UK Ministry of Defence. Joint Doctrine Publication 1-10. Captured Persons. 4th Edition 2020.
Health in prisons. A WHO guide to the essentials in prison health. WHO Europe Regional Office. 2007.
Prisons and health. WHO Europe Regional Office. 2014.
UN General Assembly Resolution 70/175 17 Dec 2015. The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules).
Health Systems and Needs Assessment in Prisons - Practical Guide and Toolkit. ICRC 2020

Playing Card Scenarios

Queen Clubs. A badly injured enemy combatant claims that his injuries were caused after he had been captured. How do you respond?
Ace Clubs. Special forces capture a combatant whom they believe has vital information about a future terrorist attack. The combatant refuses a life-saving treatment stating that he would “rather die than live as a prisoner and traitor”. What can/should yo

Other websites

The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law. Prisoners of War. Medicins Sans Frontiers.