Immigration and Naturalization Service

April 28, 1942



SUBJECT: Instructions concerning the treatment of alien enemy detainees.

By telegraphic instructions immediately after the beginning of the war and by various written instructions beginning with that of December 12, 1941, all District Directors and the Field Service have been informed as to the treatment of alien enemies in the custody of the Service and the standards of custodial care adopted for all detention facilities under their jurisdiction.

The purpose of this instruction is to combine the previous ones into one comprehensive order, so that all employees of the Service who have any duties in connection with the custody of alien enemies may be thoroughly familiar with the treatment which must be accorded them. Each District Director will therefore furnish a copy of this instruction to each employee under his jurisdiction who has any duties to perform in connection with the detention of alien enemies. If insufficient copies of this instruction are received to accomplish that end, request for additional copies should be made.

The minimum standards of treatment which have been established and which must prevail throughout the Service are based upon the provisions of the Convention Between the United States of America and Forty-six other Powers (including those with whom this nation is now at war) Relating to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (Treaty Series No. 846), known generally as the Geneva Convention of 1929. The Government of the United States has agreed with the belligerent powers to apply these provisions to civilian alien enemy internees wherever applicable. Copies of the Geneva Convention have heretofore been supplied to the various districts.

In this connection it should be kept in mind that the basis underlying our treatment of alien enemy detainees is reciprocity, and that nothing must be done or permitted to be done whereby any ground may exist for the charge that the Geneva Convention has been violated or ignored, thereby providing an excuse under the guise of retaliation for harsh treatment and cruel abuse of nationals of this country in the hands of our enemies.

Reports as to our treatment of alien enemy detainees are made from time to time to the belligerent nations by diplomatic representatives of the protecting Powers (the Swiss for Germany and Italy, the Spanish for Japan). In this connection visits of inspection will be made by such representatives from time to time by arrangement with the Central Office, of which the districts concerned will be notified. Visits will also be made by representatives of the International Red Cross Committee and other similar organizations. On such occasions full access must be accorded and opportunity afforded to talk to internees and to receive any complaints they may care to make.

If requests are made direct to field officers for permission to make such inspection visits, as, for example, by local consuls and the like, permission should be withheld until the request has been reported to the Central Office and authority for the visit has been obtained. Meanwhile, the person making the request should be informed that his request must be cleared through diplomatic channels.


The following are the rules to be observed. It should be remembered that these are minimum standards. Full discretion to exceed them is given to District Directors and officers in charge of detention camps in the interest of the health and personal welfare of detainees but always consistent with the responsibility of adequate security.

1. Humane treatment. (See Article 3 - Geneva Convention) Detainees must at all times be humanely treated and protected, particularly against acts of violence, insults, and public curiosity. Physical coercion must not be resorted to and, except in self defense, to prevent escape or for purposes of proper search, no employee of this Service under any pretext shall invade the person of any detainee. No measures calculated to humiliate or degrade shall be undertaken.

The fullest consideration must be afforded to women and those infirm or in ill health. Women shall be treated at all times with all the regard due to their sex.

2. Quarters. (See Articles 9 and 10 - Geneva Convention) Detainees shall be allowed the same amount of space as is the standard for United States troops at base camps, viz., sixty square feet of floor space and seven hundred and twenty cubic feet of air space. All quarters must be properly heated, lighted, and well ventilated. They must be kept clean and sanitary at all times and all precautions taken against danger of fire.

Detainees, particularly women, must be accorded free access during the day to their sleeping quarters for rest and relaxation.

Detainees must not be confined in jails or prisons except as a temporary measure in localities where no facility of this Service exists or no other place is available, and even in such cases, for no longer than twenty-four hours pending arrangements for transfer, in accordance with Central Office instruction of January 30, 1942.

3. Sanitation. (See Article 13 - Geneva Convention) Detainees must have at their disposal at all times, day and night, suitable sanitary installations, which must be kept constantly in a state of cleanliness. Daily access must be had to shower baths and sufficient hot and cold water must be supplied. Soap and other facilities must be furnished in sufficient quantities to insure bodily cleanliness.

4. Exercise and Fresh Air. (See Articles 13 and 56 - Geneva Convention) As much exercise and opportunity to enjoy the open air as is possible must be afforded. Even detainees closely confined as a disciplinary measure must be allowed to exercise or to stay in the open air at least two hours each day. In all other cases, weather permitting, exercise in the open air must be permitted for longer periods and at least twice daily. Suitable recreational and exercise equipment, both indoor and outdoor, shall be furnished by the Service.

5. Food. (See Article 11 - Geneva Convention) The food furnished detainees must be equal in quantity and quality to that of United States troops at base camps. All foodstuffs shall be carefully inspected to see that they are of good quality and conform to specifications. The amount of food furnished shall average per detainee per day approximately the following:

Food Item Weight
Meats and Fish .70 lbs.
Lard and Cooking Oils .15 "
Flours, Starches, Cereals .80 "
Dairy Products 1.00 "
Eggs .03 "
Sugar, Sugar Substitutes and Syrups .25 "
Beverages - Coffee, Tea, Cocoa .10 "
Potatoes and Root Vegetables 1.00
Leafy Green and Yellow Vegetables .60
Dried Vegetables and Nuts .10
Fruits and Berries - Fresh or Canned .15
Dried Fruits .08
Spices and Miscellaneous Food Adjuncts .10


In case the rationing of any food item is applied by the Government to the civilians in the United States generally, the same ration allowance shall be applied to detainees. Wherever applicable, detainees should be permitted to prepare or assist in the preparation of foods in accordance with their respective national tastes, but a properly balanced diet shall be preserved.

6. Clothing.  (See Article 11 - Geneva Convention) Detainees shall be furnished clothing, linen and footwear as required. Those who work should be furnished clothing suitable for the work which they perform.

7. Bedding and Towels. Each detainee shall be issued a sufficient number of blankets, or blankets and comforts, for warmth, the number to depend upon local climatic conditions. Blankets shall be laundered as required and should not be reissued without laundering. Sheets and pillow cases shall be changed as often as required, but not less often than once a week.

Detainees shall be furnished a bath-size Turkish towel which shall be changed three times weekly. Opportunity must be given detainees to wash the towels themselves whenever they desire.

8. Miscellaneous Articles of Necessity and Convenience. (See Articles 11 and 12 - Geneva Convention) Opportunity must be given for detainees to purchase at local market prices or lower, food products, tobacco, and ordinary objects. As required, detainees not financially able to supply their own needs, miscellaneous articles such as the following shall be furnished:
Soap, dentifrices, shaving materials, writing materials, sewing materials, and tobacco. Detainees must be permitted to smoke under proper regulations. The tobacco furnished shall be good grade pipe or cigarette tobacco, and the equivalent of ten cigarettes a day shall be issued.
9. Canteens. (See Article 12 - Geneva Convention) In each camp and, where practicable, in other detention facilities, detainees shall be permitted to establish a canteen where they may obtain, at not to exceed local market prices, miscellaneous products and items desired by them and approved by the Officer-in-Charge of the camp as not being detrimental to discipline or the security of the detention facility. Wherever the detainees are competent to do so, they should be permitted to operate their own canteens, but the accounts should be carefully audited by an employee of this Service. Profits made by the canteens above those needed for operating expenses shall be placed in the general welfare fund.

10. Work. (See Articles 27, 29 and 34 - Geneva Convention) Detainees may be required to perform work connected with the operation and maintenance of the detention station or camp, provided they are physically fit for such work, for which they will receive no pay.

11. Recreation. (See Articles 17 and 39 - Geneva Convention) In addition to exercise, detainees shall be allowed to engage in sports and intellectual diversions. At camps where the practice is feasible, suitable motion pictures shall be shown once weekly. Wherever possible books, magazines, and other reading matter shall be supplied and detainees shall be permitted to receive individually books and other reading matter, subject to censorship.

12. Religious Services. (See Article 16 - Geneva Convention) Detainees shall enjoy complete liberty in the exercise of their religious faith and in camps, and elsewhere if practicable, arrangements must be made for religious services to be conducted once a week, at which detainees must be permitted to attend.

Ministers of the Gospel, Priests, and other representatives of religious faiths, must be allowed to visit detainees if requested for the purposes of their calling.

13. Visitors. Regular visiting hours shall be established, at which time detainees may receive as visitors relatives, friends, counsel, and persons calling upon them for other proper reasons whom they desire to see. All visits shall take place under the supervision of an officer of this Service, except those made by a representative of a Protecting Power or the Department of State, who must be permitted to talk with detainees without surveillance.

The visiting regulations should be as literal as local conditions will permit. The length of an individual visit should not be made unnecessarily short, the number of visits should not be unduly curtailed, and in no case shall all of any detainee's visits be restricted to less than two hours per week. In bona fide emergencies detainees should be permitted to receive visitors outside of the regular visiting hours.

14. Information. Inquiries from relatives, friends, counsel, or other persons with a proper reason, concerning the whereabouts and health of detainees should be answered. Publicity should be avoided and under no circumstances must names or other information as to individual detainees be given to the press.

Inquiries as to the nature of the charges, the extent of the evidence, or the disposition of the case as to any individual must not be answered. All such inquiries should be referred to the Alien Enemy Control Unit, Department of Justice, Washington, D. C.

Inquiries and requests for information from representatives of Protecting Powers while on an inspection visit must be freely and fully answered.

15. Internal Relations. (See Articles 42 and 43 - Geneva Convention) To the fullest extent possible at detention stations, and as the general rule in camps, detainees, so long as they are cooperative, shall have their own camp organization and may be permitted to manage the internal affairs of the camp relating to work, recreation, education, and general welfare, including the operation of canteens and the administering of welfare funds. These matters should be administered by elected representatives of the detainees and committees composed thereof, properly supervised by an officer of this Service.

Detainees shall have the right to appoint from among their number an agent or spokesman to represent them in dealing with the officers of this Service and with the Protecting Powers. Any complaints from such representative shall receive the immediate attention of the Officer-in-Charge, and where of a serious nature shall be reported to the Central Office where a detainee desires to write to the Central Office to register a complaint or for any other purpose, he shall be allowed to do so.

Contacts between delegates' representatives and District Directors as well as Officers-in-Charge of detention facilities, must be facilitated, and the Officer-in-Charge of a facility must make himself available to the detainee representative not less often than once each day.

16. Censorship. (See Articles 36, 37, 38 and 40 - Geneva Convention) Subject to censorship, detainees must be allowed to send letters, postal cards and telegrams. They must be allowed to do so in their native language. Subject also to censorship, they must be permitted to receive letters, postal cards, and telegrams. Subject to examination, they must also be permitted to receive parcels containing food and clothing.

The Geneva Convention contemplates that mail and parcels of prisoners of war shall be exempt from postal duties and it is expected that this will be extended to civilian detainees in the near future, in which event the Service will be duly advised.

The censorship of correspondence and the examination of parcels will be conducted in accordance with instructions heretofore issued and particularly in compliance with Central Office confidential letter to all district directors of April 15, 1942, file 56125/27, captioned "Examination of the postal, telegraphic, and cabled communications of detained alien enemies."

17. Money and other Valuable Possessions. (See Articles 6 and 24 - Geneva Convention) Within reasonable limits, all effects and objects of personal use shall remain in the possession of the detainees, except such articles as are deemed to be dangerous and except money. A receipt shall be given for all property taken from the detainees.

Upon being received in a detention station or detention camp of this Service, all money in the detainee's possession over the amount of ten dollars shall be taken from him and placed in an account established in his name. The detainee shall be given a receipt for the money taken from him. Each detainee may be allowed to make withdrawals so long as the total amount of money in his possession does not exceed ten dollars. However, detainees' funds will be handled in accordance with Central Office letter to all district directors of February 14, 1942, file 56125/39, which provides in part that a detainee may withdraw from any of his fund being held by this Service amounts of money actually needed by dependents, or for bona fide obligations incurred outside of the detention station or detention camp, but not to exceed five hundred dollars in any one month.

18. Discipline. (See Articles 45 to 59, inclusive - Geneva Convention) Detainees may be disciplined by Officers-in-Charge of camps or stations only by closer confinement and apart from other detainees, and only for the following offenses:
(a) Insubordination towards detention station or camp authorities, or duly elected camp leaders of their own nationality.

(b) Refusal to perform work which they may be legally required to do under the Geneva Convention.

(c) Escapes, or attempted escapes.

(d) Offenses against fellow detainees or conduct tending to disrupt the harmony at the camp or other facility.

(e) Malicious destruction of property and kindred offenses.

(f) Serious infractions of the rules of conduct established for the facility.
All regulations, order, and notices to govern the conduct of detainees must be communicated to them in a language which they understand.

Detainees may not be confined for more than thirty days for any single offense, and they may not be punished more than once because of the same act. Quarters where detainees are confined for disciplinary reasons must be light, dry, warm, and well ventilated. They must conform to sanitary requirements, and the detainees shall be enabled to keep themselves in a state of cleanliness. Detainees being subjected to confinement as a disciplinary measure must be allowed two hours daily in the open air. They shall be allowed to read and write, and may send letters in accordance with the instructions governing the censorship of mail. They shall be given adequate medical attention and care, and on their request shall be visited daily by the Medical Officer.

The Officer-in-Charge of the detention station or camp shall determine the extent of the punishment to be imposed, within the limitations prescribed in the foregoing, and may impose such punishments without securing specific authority in advance from the Central Office. However, in each case he shall immediately submit a report to the Central Office describing the offense, showing how guilt was determined, and advising of the penalty imposed.

In no case shall a detainee be transferred to a jail or other penal or correctional institution as a disciplinary measure.

In no case shall an officer of this Service initiate a criminal prosecution against an alien enemy detainee, or surrender such detainee to other authorities without the prior approval of the Central Office.

19. Medical Care. (See Articles 14 and 15 - Geneva Convention) At stations and camps where Medical Officers are regularly stationed there shall be a daily medical inspection, and necessary medical attention, medicine, and care shall be given detainees requiring it without cost to them. Detainees who are ill must be transferred promptly to the infirmary or to a hospital as the proper treatment of the illness seems to require, in the opinion of the Medical Officer.

At stations where the number of detainees is insufficient to warrant the full time services of a Medical Officer of the U.S. Public Health Service, arrangements will be made for competent civilian physicians to visit the station at least once daily, and as often as the proper treatment of individual cases may require. In such cases also medical attention, medicines, and care shall be given detainees without cost to them.

The Medical Officer shall make reports and recommendations as often as he deems necessary, and not less often than once a month, he shall submit in writing to the Officer-in-Charge of the station or camp a report concerning sanitation and the general health of the detainees.

Ordinary dental treatment and care shall be accorded detainees as required, without cost to them.

Whenever requested, the detainee shall be given a written statement by the Officer-in-Charge showing the nature and duration of any illness for which treatment was received and the attention accorded.

20. Civil Process. (See Articles 20, 54, 56, 57, 58, and 59 - Geneva Convention) No civil process shall be permitted to be served on an alien enemy detainee without the prior approval of the Central Office.

21. Death and Burial. (See Article 76 - Geneva Convention) In the event of a detainee's death a report of the circumstances shall be promptly furnished the Central Office together with a detailed medical report by the Medical Officer and a copy of the death certificate.

If the deceased had relatives in this country, the nearest such relative should be immediately contacted and his or her desires concerning burial ascertained. Where desired, the body shall be returned to the former residence of the deceased in this country and, if necessary, at the expense of this Service.

If the deceased did not have relatives in this country, or the return of the body to the place of former residence is not desired, he must be given honorable burial at the expense of this Service, and the grave must bear all due information, be respected, and properly maintained.

22. Geneva Convention to be Posted. (See Article 84 - Geneva Convention) The text of the Geneva Convention shall be posted in every detention facility where it may be consulted by all detainees. The text of the Convention shall be communicated to detainees who find it impossible to get the information from the posted text, upon their request.

23. General. The spirit of the Geneva Convention, as well as the letter of these instructions, must be carefully followed at all times. The first duty of this Service in connection with the detention of enemy aliens entrusted to its custody is their safekeeping. Next, but fully as important, is the obligation to treat them fairly and humanely in accordance with the principles of treatment to which the United States Government is committed.
Lemuel B. Schofield
Special Assistant to the Attorney General
Index under:

Alien enemies. Instructions re treatment of detained --
Enemy aliens. Instructions re treatment of detained --
Geneva Convention of 1929. Provisions applicable to detained alien enemies.

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