METHODS OF INTERROGATION OF A PRISONER OF WAR Introduction 1. A ‘Prisoner of War’ is a person, whether combatant or non-combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict. The treatment of prisoners has always been matter of debate in the world and many declarations and resolutions have been made in this regard including Geneva Convention of 1949. War is a time of confusion and while many suffer from it, there are many who benefit in the fog of it. The military personnel, whenever caught, have to be treated as PsOW and they have certain rights and privileges.
The enemy always utilizes this opportunity to the fullest and employs certain obvious and hidden methods to extract information from the PsOW. Rights of a POW 2. The POW can only be interrogated by following the rules and regulations laid down in the Article (v) of Geneva Convention of 1949. A prisoner of war needs only to give his name, number and rank and must remain silent on all other matters and resist all enemy efforts to extract information from him. In case his rights are violated, the violators are subject to the provisions of international law and they may be tried by the international criminal court.
Methods of Interrogation 3. A number of interrogation techniques have been used of approved for use. They include standard Army methods in compliance with the Third Geneva Convention, as well as other approaches which are either questionable or clearly exceed the strictures protecting POWs. Several of the latter may also violate other limitations outside the scope of human imagination. 4. Numerous devices may be effectively employed by the interrogator to establish mental contact or rapport with POW. At the outset it should be emphasized that the objective of an interrogation is seldom, if ever, to obtain an admission or a confession.
The subject is interrogated for accurate and reliable information. Several common methods interrogation which are being used for the purpose by interrogators are briefly discussed below. (a)Show of Knowledge or “We know all”. In this method, the interrogator familiarizes himself with all available data on the POW and his unit or whatever subject is being explored. He asks questions to which he already has the answers and scornfully answers them himself when the POW hesitates. He is striving to convince the POW that he already knows all the POW does so that resistance is wasted effort.
When the prisoner starts giving correct information and answers freely, a few “mystery” questions can be slipped in. Dummy questions should still be used from time to time to test the POW, to conceal from him the fact that he is giving new information, and to prevent him from realizing that he is “spilling the beans”. (b)Stool Pigeons. Enemies infiltrate their own men in the POW camps under the garb of PsOW from other units or services. They make PsOW discuss various aspects of service amongst themselves and extract information. (c)Consolation.
Innocent looking folks like servants, guards, sweepers try to console the PsOW offer small favour and then make efforts to get the required information. (d)Bugging. The camps and residences etc of PsOW are bugged and their conversation taped. (e)Favours. Money and other Favours are offered and assurances given that no damage will be done to the individual, if he cooperates. (f)Recruitment. A few PsOW are recruited and then utilized for collection of information from other PsOW. (g)Direct approach. In this method the interrogator seemingly “lays the cards on the table”, apparently makes no attempt to hide the purpose of the questioning.
This approach should be used only in cases where the interrogator assumes or knows that the person interrogated will not refuse to give information. (h)Rapid fire questioning. This method consists of a rapidly delivered series of questions which keeps the POW constantly on the defensive and off balance thereby weakening resistance an/ or his determination to give evasive answers. When this approach is employed the POW often loses patience, becomes angry, offended, or confused, and begins to talk in self defense. (j)Emotional approach. This method consists of playing upon the emotions of a person in order to bring out the required information.
When using this method, the interrogator creates an atmosphere of emotional confusion designed to reduce security consciousness. The emotional approach utilizes hate, revenge, fear, jealousy, sadness, pity, and similar emotions. It also exploits religious and patriotic feelings, sense of social duty, and other concepts based on emotional reactions. (k)Trickery. This method has an almost limitless number of variations. Its purpose is to cause the POW to divulge information without being aware of it, or without a conscious or willful choice in the matter. (l)Censoring.
The mail of PsOW is censored. (m)Third Degree Methods. Third degree methods are used to break the PsOW. It is apparent from above that once captured as prisoner of war, the responsibility of a service person increases many folds and he must keep his mouth tightly shut to ensure that no information is leaked out. However, he must look normal and should not give impression of being in possession of full information. (n)Propaganda. The PsOW are given propaganda material to read, to hear from radio or from the TV to see to break them down and lower their spirits.
This is done to bring their morale down to a certain level where they themselves will start giving information thinking their country might or already has lost the war. (p)Stupid interrogator. In this method the interrogator pretends to be a stupid individual with very little understanding of military or other matters. This device may have the desired effect of disarming the person interrogated. The POW is required to “explain” everything (Even inconsequential items) because the interrogator is so “stupid. ” 5. Variations. Any of the usual methods may be varied in many ways.
Here are some variations which might fit into any of the categories of the methods listed in Para 4above. (a)Sympathy. (b)Sternness. (c)Pride and ego. (d)National pride. (e)Face saving. (f)Bluff. (g)Fear. (h)Drawing attention away from the real object. (j)Threat and rescue. Conclusion 6. There are many others; in fact, the variety of methods is limited only by the initiative, imagination, and ingenuity of the interrogator. The interrogation method should be tailored to suit each individual case, and may be combined with other methods to suit special requirements.
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