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Chapter 11:06

Geneva Conventions Act

Act 36/1981, 22.1997, 22/2001 (s. 4) Section

  1. Short title.
  2. Grave breaches of scheduled Conventions.
  3. Notice of trial of protected person to be served on protecting power.
  4. Legal representation.
  5. Appeals by protected person.
  6. Reduction of sentence and custody of protected person.
  7. Prevention of abuse of Red Cross and other emblems.

SCHEDULES

First Schedule: Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of August 12, 1949.

Second Schedule: Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea of August 12, 1949.

Third Schedule: Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of August 12, 1949.

Fourth Schedule: Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of August 12, 1949.

Fifth Schedule : Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I).

Sixth Schedule : Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II).

AN ACT to enable effect to be given within Zimbabwe to the four Conventions signed at Geneva on the 12th August, 1949, dealing respectively with wounded and sick members of the armed forces in the field, with wounded, sick and shipwrecked members of the armed forces at sea, with treatment of prisoners of war and with protection of civilian persons in time of war; and to provide for matters incidental to or connected with the foregoing.

[Date of commencement: 1st February, 1984.]

  • Short title

This Act may be cited as the Geneva Conventions Act [Chapter 11:06].

  • Interpretation

In this Act—

“court” does not include a court martial or other military court;

“First Protocol” means the Protocol additional to the scheduled Conventions which is set out in the Fifth Schedule.

[Definition inserted by section 2 of Act 22 of 1997]

“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 were exercisable in relation to that prisoner at the camp or place at which that prisoner was, at or immediately before that time, detained as a protected prisoner of war;

“protected internee” means a person protected by the Convention set out in the Fourth Schedule or by the First Protocol, and interned in Zimbabwe;

[Definition substituted by section 2 of Act 22 of 1997]

“protected prisoner of war” means a person—

  • protected by the Convention set out in the Third Schedule;
  • protected as a prisoner of war under the First Protocol; or
  • entitled under the First Protocol to the same protection as a prisoner of war.

[Definition substituted by section 2 of Act 22 of 1997]

“protecting power”, in relation to a protected prisoner of war or protected internee, means the power or organization which is carrying out, in the interests of the power of which that person is a national or of whose

forces that person is or was at any material time a member, the duties assigned to protecting powers under the Convention set out in the Third, Fourth of Fifth Schedule, as the case may be;

[Definition amended by section 2 of Act 22 of 1997]

“scheduled Conventions” means the Conventions set out in the First, Second, Third and Fourth Schedules.

“Second Protocol” means the Protocol additional to the scheduled Conventions which is set out in the Sixth Schedule.

[Definition inserted by section 2 of Act 22 of 1997]

  • Grave breaches of scheduled Conventions
    • Any person, whatever his nationality, who, whether in or outside Zimbabwe, commits any such grave breach of a scheduled Convention or of the First Protocol as is referred to in— (a) article 50 of the Convention set out in the First Schedule; or
    • article 51 of the Convention set out in the Second Schedule; or
    • article 130 of the Convention set out in the Third Schedule; or
    • article 147 of the Convention set out in the Fourth Schedule; or       (e) paragraph 4 of article 11 of paragraph 2, 3 or 4 of the First protocol; shall be guilty of an offence.
    • A person guilty of an offence in terms of subsection (1) shall be liable—
    • in the case of a grave breach referred to in subsection (1) which involves the wilful killing of a person protected by the Convention in question, to be sentenced to death or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding thirty years;
    • in the case of any other such grave breach not referred to in paragraph (a), to imprisonment for a period not exceeding fourteen years.
    • Where an offence in terms of this section has been committed outside Zimbabwe, the person concerned may be proceeded against, indicted, tried and punished therefor in any place in Zimbabwe 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.
    • If, in any trial for an offence in terms of this section, a question arises whether article 2 of any of the scheduled Conventions or article 3 or 4 of the First Protocol is applicable, that question shall be determined by the Minister responsible for foreign affairs and a certificate purporting— (a) to set out any such determination; and

(b) to be signed by or on behalf of the Minister responsible for foreign affairs;

shall be received in evidence on its production by any person and be deemed to be so signed without further proof, unless the contrary is shown.

  • No court martial or other military court shall have jurisdiction to try any person on a charge of contravening subsection (1):

Provided that a person may be tried by a court martial or military court for an offence which, in terms of any other enactment, is triable by such a court, notwithstanding that his conduct amounts also to a contravention of subsection (1).

  • Where any person is brought before a court on a charge under this section, no further proceedings in respect thereof shall be taken against him without the authority of the Attorney-General, except such as the court may think necessary by way of remand to secure the due appearance of the person charged:

Provided that nothing in this subsection shall be construed so as to deprive any person of any right conferred upon him by Part III of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act [Chapter 9:07] to institute a private prosecution for an offence under the common law against a person whom the Attorney-General has declined to prosecute on a charge under this section.

[Section as amended by section 3 of Act 22 of 1997]

  • Notice of trial of protected person to be served on protecting power
    • The court before which—
    • a protected prisoner of war is brought for trial for any offence; or
    • a protected internee is brought for trial for an offence for which that court has the power to sentence him to death or to imprisonment for a period 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 subsection (2), 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.

  • The following particulars shall be contained in a notice referred to in subsection (1)—
  • 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; and
  • the place of detention, internment or residence of the accused; and
  • the offence with which the accused is charged; and
  • the court before which the trial is to take place and the time and place appointed for the trial.
  • For the purposes of subsection (1), a document purporting to be—
  • signed on behalf of the protecting power or by the prisoners’ representative or by the accused person, as the case may be; and
  • an acknowledgement 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 proof that the notice required by subsection (1) was served on that power, representative or person, as the case may be, on that day.

  • A court which adjourns a trial for the purpose of enabling the requirements of this section to be complied with may, notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other law, remand the accused person for the period of the adjournment.
  • Legal representation
    • Subject to subsections (2) and (3), the court before which—
    • a person is brought for trial for an offence in terms of subsection (1) of section three; or
    • a protected prisoner of war is brought for trial for any offence; shall not proceed with the trial unless—
      • the accused person is represented by a legal practitioner who is qualified to appear before the court; and
      • 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 legal practitioner who is representing the accused;

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 law, the court may remand the accused person for the period of the adjournment.

  • Where the accused person is a protected prisoner of war, in the absence of a legal practitioner accepted by the accused as representing him, a legal practitioner instructed for the purpose by or on behalf of the protecting power shall, without prejudice to the requirements of paragraph (ii) of subsection (1), be regarded for the purposes of that subsection as representing the accused person.
  • Where the court adjourns a trial in terms of subsection (1) by reason that the accused person is not represented by a legal practitioner, the court shall direct that a legal practitioner be assigned to watch over the interests of the accused person at any further proceedings in connection with the offence and at any such further proceedings, in the absence of a legal practitioner accepted by the accused as representing him or instructed as referred to in subsection (2), a legal practitioner assigned in terms of this subsection shall, without prejudice to the requirements of paragraph (ii) of subsection (1), be regarded for the purposes of that subsection as representing the accused.
  • The Legal Assistance and Representation Act [Chapter 9:13] shall apply, mutatis mutandis, in relation to the manner in which a legal practitioner shall be assigned in terms of this section and in relation to the remuneration payable to any such legal practitioner on the completion of his duties.
  • Appeals by protected persons

Where a protected prisoner of war or a protected internee has been sentenced to death or to imprisonment for a period of two years or more, the time within which he may give notice of appeal or notice of his application for leave to appeal to the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, shall, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, be not less than the period from the date of his conviction or, in the case of an appeal against sentence, of his sentence to the expiration of ten days after the date on which he receives a notice given by the officer in charge of the place at which he is interned or confined that the protecting power has been notified of his conviction and sentence.

  • Reduction of sentence and custody of protected person
    • In any case in which a protected prisoner of war or a protected internee is convicted of an offence and sentenced to a term of imprisonment, there shall be deducted from that term any period during which that person was in custody in connection with the offence, either on remand or after committal for trial, including the period of the trial, before the sentence began to run or is deemed to have begun to run.
    • The Minister responsible for justice may, where he is satisfied that a protected prisoner of war accused of an offence has been in custody in connection with that offence, either on remand or after committal for trial, including the period of the trial, for an aggregate period of not less than three months, direct that the prisoner shall be transferred from that custody to the custody of an officer of the Defence Forces and thereafter remain in military custody at a camp or place in which protected prisoners of war are detained and be brought before the court at the time appointed by the remand or committal order.
  • Prevention of abuse of Red Cross and other emblems
    • Subject to this section and section 7 of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society Act [Chapter 17:08] no person shall, without the authority in writing of the Minister responsible for health, use for any purpose whatsoever any of the following emblems or designations—
    • the emblem of a red cross with vertical and horizontal arms of the same length on, and completely surrounded by, a white ground, or the designation “Red Cross” or “Geneva Cross”;
    • the emblem of a red crescent moon on, and completely surrounded by, a white ground, or the designation “Red Crescent”;
    • the following emblem in red on, and completely surrounded by, a white ground, that is to say, a lion passing from right to left of, and with its face turned towards, the observer, holding erect in its raised right forepaw a scimitar, with, appearing above the lion’s back, the upper half of the sun shooting forth rays, or the designation “Red Lion and Sun”.
    • the sign of an equilateral blue triangle on and completely surrounded by an orange ground, being the international distinctive sign of civil defence;

[Paragraph inserted by section 4 of Act 22 of 1997]

  • any of the distinctive signals specified in Chapter III of Annex 1 of the First Protocol, being the signals of identification for medical units and transports.

[Paragraph inserted by section 4 of Act 22 of 1997]

  • Subject to this section, no person shall, without the authority in writing of the Minister responsible for health, use for any purpose whatsoever—
  • any design consisting of a white or silver cross with vertical and horizontal arms of the same length on, and completely surrounded by, a red ground, being the heraldic emblem of the Swiss Confederation, or any other design so nearly resembling that design as to be capable of being mistaken for that heraldic emblem;
  • any design or wording so nearly resembling any of the emblems or designations specified in subsection (1) as to be capable of being mistaken for or, as the case may be, understood as referring to one of those emblems.
  • Any person who contravenes subsection (1) or (2) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level four.

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