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Rights of POWs

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) defines Prisoners of War (POW) as ‘a combatant, generally a member of the armed forces of a party to an international armed conflict or an individual enjoying equivalent legal status, who has fallen into the hands of an adverse party’ but ‘any person who takes part in hostilities’ can be considered a prisoner of war as well. Though the usage of the phrase ‘POW’ dates back to the 17th century, harassment of the prisoners of war has continued since the earliest ages of warfare. In the 19th century, the Napoleonic War, the Revolutionary War, and the Anglo-American War of 1812 caused the emergence of a cartel system, in which opposing countries would exchange an equal number of prisoners on each side. In order to receive prisoner-of-war status, an individual must either be a combatant bearing open arms in an international warfare or a civilian. Thought the topic affects all countries engaging in or having engaged in warfare, currently Middle East countries such as Pakistan, Iran, the Syrian Arab Republic, and Jordan have the highest number of POWs, with most of the prisoners being refugees from recent warfare. There is a growing number of POWs in African countries such as Kenya and...

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