22.214.171.124 Reprisal – Notes on Terminology. Some older sources used “reprisal”
in a narrower sense only to refer to taking possession of property of the enemy in response to
189 Refer to § 18.18.2 (Conditions for Lawful Reprisals).
190 See GC COMMENTARY 227 (“Reprisals are measures contrary to law, but which, when taken by one State with
regard to another State to ensure the cessation of certain acts or to obtain compensation for them, are considered as
lawful in the particular conditions under which they are carried out.”); United States v. Ohlendorf, et al.
(Einsatzgruppen Case), IV TRIALS OF WAR CRIMINALS BEFORE THE NMT 493 (“Reprisals in war are the
commission of acts which, although illegal in themselves, may, under the specific circumstances of the given case,
become justified because the guilty adversary has himself behaved illegally, and the action is taken in last resort, in
order to prevent the adversary from behaving illegally in the future.”).
191 Abraham Lincoln, General Order No. 252, Jul. 31, 1863, reprinted in Thos. M. O’Brien & Oliver Diefendorf,
UNITED STATES WAR DEPARTMENT, II GENERAL ORDERS OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT, EMBRACING THE YEARS 1861,
1862 & 1863, 323 (1864) (“It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens, of whatever class,
color, or condition, and especially to those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service. The law of
nations and the usages and customs of war, as carried on by civilized powers, permit no distinction as to color in the
treatment of prisoners of war as public enemies. To sell or enslave any captured person on account of his color, and
for no offense against the laws of war, is a relapse into barbarism and a crime against the civilization of the age. The
Government of the United States will give the same protection to all its soldiers, and if the enemy shall sell or
enslave anyone because of his color the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy’s prisoners in our
possession. It is therefore ordered, That for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war a
rebel soldier shall be executed, and for every one enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery a rebel soldier shall be
placed at hard labor on the public works and continued at such labor until the other shall be released and receive the
treatment due to a prisoner of war.”).
192 Refer to § 126.96.36.199 (Reprisals Prohibited by the 1949 Geneva Conventions)