IRRC No. 270

The taking of hostages and international humanitarian law

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It is generally acknowledged by the international community that the taking of hostages is one of the most vile and reprehensible of acts. This crime violates fundamental individual rights—the right to life, to liberty and to security—that are protected by binding legal instruments such as the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the worldwide level, and the 1969 American Convention on Human Rights and the 1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms on the regional level. The United Nations General Assembly has stated that the taking of hostages is an act which places innocent human lives in danger and violates human dignity.

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