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Saw this on Facebook today. In what context is this applicable (if at all it is)?

And what does it have to do with collective punishment? Are they referring to keeping the whole class back or keeping a few students back?

  • 16
    I'm voting to close as this does not seem to be an actual notable claim. It is also obviously false, as the geneva convention is about the treatment of prisoners of war, which students are generally not.
    – tim
    Mar 23, 2017 at 9:13
  • How many likes or shares did it have? Mar 23, 2017 at 10:00
  • This site requires all questions to be notable, that is, the claim in the question needs to believed by at least lets say, a thousand people. You need to demonstrate that the question is notable by linking to sites where you saw the claim. Add at least two links to demonstrate notability. Mar 23, 2017 at 10:54
  • 2
    I think it's supposed to be a joke, but not a very good one.
    – fredsbend
    Mar 23, 2017 at 17:00
  • 2
    There was actually a trial about such a situation in Germany, not for the Geneva Convention, but for deprivation of liberty - in the end the teacher was absolved. sueddeutsche.de/bildung/…
    – user34864
    Mar 24, 2017 at 14:00

1 Answer 1


Most likely a humorous context, because it is not applicable.

The Geneva conventions are a set of international law conventions concerning war-time situations. They have 4 main conventions:

  • Geneva Convention (I) on Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field
  • Geneva Convention (II) on Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked of Armed Forces at Sea
  • Geneva Convention (III) on Prisoners of War
  • Geneva Convention (IV) on Civilians

The Collective punishment provision is in the Art. 33 in the 4th Convention, however although being about civilians, it still only covers war situations as its full title is (emphasis mine):

Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War

Article 33 states:

No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.

Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.

Pillage is prohibited.

Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.

This article is derived from Article 50 of the Hague Regulation:

Regulations respecting the laws and customs of war on land - Section III : Military authority over the territory of the hostile state - Regulations: Art. 50.

No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible.

Clearly all these laws talk about collective punishment only in time of war, but let's also look at Art. 33's commentary on collective punishment. Emphasis mine:

This paragraph then lays a prohibition on collective penalties. This does not refer to punishments inflicted under penal law, i.e. sentences pronounced by a court after due process of law, but penalties of any kind inflicted on persons or entire groups of persons, in defiance of the most elementary principles of humanity, for acts that these persons have not committed.

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