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persons illegally taken into custody by belligerents in order to avert the resistance of the population of an occupied territory. As a rule, hostages are taken from among persons who are not participating directly in military operations.
The Geneva Convention of Aug. 12, 1949, On the Protection of Civilians in Wartime, prohibits the taking of hostages, noting that this rule is included among the minimum provisions binding upon all belligerents. In its list of persons who may not be taken as hostages under any circumstances the Geneva convention includes—in addition to civilians—members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those who, as a result of illness, wounds, or detention, have ceased to participate in military operations.
The Geneva convention’s provisions concerning hostages must be applied also to the participants of national liberation movements.