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Prisoner of war

Military term for a captive of the enemy / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A prisoner of war (POW) is a person who is held captive by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict. The earliest recorded usage of the phrase "prisoner of war" dates back to 1610.[lower-alpha 1]

Serbian prisoners of war in Austrian captivity during World War I, 1915

Belligerents hold prisoners of war in custody for a range of legitimate and illegitimate reasons, such as isolating them from the enemy combatants still in the field (releasing and repatriating them in an orderly manner after hostilities), demonstrating military victory, punishing them, prosecuting them for war crimes, exploiting them for their labour, recruiting or even conscripting them as their own combatants, collecting military and political intelligence from them, or indoctrinating them in new political or religious beliefs.[1]

Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, prisoners of war are automatically granted the enhanced status of protected persons, alongside certain civilians and enemy combatants who are hors de combat (i.e., out of the fight).[2]

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