Information Bureaux and Central Agency
Upon the outbreak of a conflict and in all cases of occupation,
each of the Parties to the conflict shall establish an official
Information Bureau responsible for receiving and transmitting information
in respect of the protected persons who are in its power.
Each of the Parties to the conflict shall, within
the shortest possible period, give its Bureau information of any
measure taken by it concerning any protected persons who are kept
in custody for more than two weeks, who are subjected to assigned
residence or who are interned. It shall, furthermore, require its
various departments concerned with such matters to provide the aforesaid
Bureau promptly with information concerning all changes pertaining
to these protected persons, as, for example, transfers, releases,
repatriations, escapes, admittances to hospitals, births and deaths.
Each national Bureau shall immediately forward information concerning
protected persons by the most rapid means to the Powers in whose
territory they resided, through the intermediary of the Protecting
Powers and likewise through the Central Agency provided for in Article
140. The Bureaux shall also reply to all enquiries which may be
received regarding protected persons.
Information Bureaux shall transmit information concerning
a protected person unless its transmission might be detrimental
to the person concerned or to his or her relatives. Even in such
a case, the information may not be withheld from the Central Agency
which, upon being notified of the circumstances, will take the necessary
precautions indicated in Article 140.
All communications in writing made by any Bureau
shall be authenticated by a signature or a seal.
The information received by the national Bureau and transmitted
by it shall be of such a character as to make it possible to identify
the protected person exactly and to advise his next of kin quickly.
The information in respect of each person shall include at least
his surname, first names, place and date of birth, nationality last
residence and distinguishing characteristics, the first name of
the father and the maiden name of the mother, the date, place and
nature of the action taken with regard to the individual, the address
at which correspondence may be sent to him and the name and address
of the person to be informed.
Likewise, information regarding the state of health
of internees who are seriously ill or seriously wounded shall be
supplied regularly and if possible every week.
Each national Information Bureau shall, furthermore, be responsible
for collecting all personal valuables left by protected persons
mentioned in Article 136, in particular those who have been repatriated
or released, or who have escaped or died; it shall forward the said
valuables to those concerned, either direct, or, if necessary, through
the Central Agency. Such articles shall be sent by the Bureau in
sealed packets which shall be accompanied by statements giving clear
and full identity particulars of the person to whom the articles
belonged, and by a complete list of the contents of the parcel.
Detailed records shall be maintained of the receipt and despatch
of all such valuables.
A Central Information Agency for protected persons, in particular
for internees, shall be created in a neutral country. The International
Committee of the Red Cross shall, if it deems necessary, propose
to the Powers concerned the organization of such an Agency, which
may be the same as that provided for in Article 123 of the Geneva
Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 12 August
The function of the Agency shall be to collect all
information of the type set forth in Article 136 which it may obtain
through official or private channels and to transmit it as rapidly
as possible to the countries of origin or of residence of the persons
concerned, except in cases where such transmissions might be detrimental
to the persons whom the said information concerns, or to their relatives.
It shall receive from the Parties to the conflict all reasonable
facilities for effecting such transmissions.
The High Contracting Parties, and in particular
those whose nationals benefit by the services of the Central Agency,
are requested to give the said Agency the financial aid it may require.
The foregoing provisions shall in no way be interpreted
as restricting the humanitarian activities of the International
Committee of the Red Cross and of the relief Societies described
in Article 142.
The national Information Bureaux and the Central Information Agency
shall enjoy free postage for all mail, likewise the exemptions provided
for in Article 110, and further, so far as possible, exemption from
telegraphic charges or, at least, greatly reduced rates.
Execution of the Convention
Section I. General Provisions
Subject to the measures which the Detaining Powers may consider
essential to ensure their security or to meet any other reasonable
need, the representatives of religious organizations, relief societies,
or any other organizations assisting the protected persons, shall
receive from these Powers, for themselves or their duly accredited
agents, all facilities for visiting the protected persons, for distributing
relief supplies and material from any source, intended for educational,
recreational or religious purposes, or for assisting them in organizing
their leisure time within the places of internment. Such societies
or organizations may be constituted in the territory of the Detaining
Power, or in any other country, or they may have an international
The Detaining Power may limit the number of societies
and organizations whose delegates are allowed to carry out their
activities in its territory and under its supervision, on condition,
however, that such limitation shall not hinder the supply of effective
and adequate relief to all protected persons.
The special position of the International Committee
of the Red Cross in this field shall be recognized and respected
at all times.
Representatives or delegates of the Protecting Powers shall have
permission to go to all places where protected persons are, particularly
to places of internment, detention and work.
They shall have access to all premises occupied
by protected persons and shall be able to interview the latter without
witnesses, personally or through an interpreter.
Such visits may not be prohibited except for reasons
of imperative military necessity, and then only as an exceptional
and temporary measure. Their duration and frequency shall not be
Such representatives and delegates shall have full
liberty to select the places they wish to visit. The Detaining or
Occupying Power, the Protecting Power and when occasion arises the
Power of origin of the persons to be visited, may agree that compatriots
of the internees shall be permitted to participate in the visits.
The delegates of the International Committee of
the Red Cross shall also enjoy the above prerogatives. The appointment
of such delegates shall be submitted to the approval of the Power
governing the territories where they will carry out their duties.