Unlawful combatant

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An unlawful combatant or unprivileged combatant/belligerent is a civilian who directly engages in armed conflict in violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and may be detained or prosecuted under the domestic law of the detaining state for such action.[1]

Contents

Introduction

The Geneva Conventions apply in wars between two or more states. Article 5 of the GCIII states that the status of a detainee may be determined by a "competent tribunal." Until such time, he is to be treated as a prisoner of war.[2] After a "competent tribunal" has determined his status, the "Detaining Power" may choose to accord the detained unlawful combatant the rights and privileges of a POW, as described in the Third Geneva Convention, but is not required to do so. An unlawful combatant who is not a national of a neutral State, and who is not a national of a co-belligerent State, retains rights and privileges under the Fourth Geneva Convention so that he must be "treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial."[3]

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