Hostage: Wikis

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Police often train to recover hostages taken by force, as in this exercise

A hostage is a person or entity which is held by a captor. The original definition meant that this was handed over by one of two belligerent parties to the other or seized as security for the carrying out of an agreement, or as a preventive measure against certain acts of war. However, in modern days, it means someone who is seized by a criminal abductor in order to compel another party such as a relative, employer, law enforcement, or government to act, or refrain from acting, in a particular way, often under threat of serious physical harm to the hostage(s) after expiration of an ultimatum.

A person or party which seize(s) (a) hostage(s) is/are known as (a) hostage-taker(s); if the hostages are present(ed) voluntarily, then the receiver is known rather as a host.

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Historical hostage practices

The English word "hostage" probably derives from French ostage, modern otage, from Late Latin obsidaticum (Medieval Latin ostaticum, ostagium), the state of being an obses (plural obsides), "hostage," with a supposed etymological connection also to Latin hostis ("stranger," later "enemy"). This long history of political and military use indicates that political authorities or generals would legally agree to hand over one or usually several hostages in the custody of the other side, as guarantee of good faith in the observance of obligations. These obligations would be in the form of signing of a peace treaty, in the hands of the victor, or even exchange hostages as mutual assurance in cases such as an armistice. Major powers, such as Ancient Rome[1] and the British who had colonial vassals, would especially receive many such political hostages, often offspring of the elite, even princes or princesses who were generally treated according to their rank and put to a subtle long-term use where they would be given an elitist education or possibly even a religious conversion. This would eventually influence them culturally and open the way for an amicable political line if they ascended to power after release.

The practice of taking hostages is very ancient, and has been used constantly in negotiations with conquered nations, and in cases such as surrenders, armistices and the like, where the two belligerents depended for its proper carrying out on each others good faith. The Romans were accustomed to take the sons of tributary princes and educate them at Rome, thus holding a security for the continued loyalty of the conquered nation and also instilling a possible future ruler with ideas of Roman civilization.

The practice continued through the early Middle Ages. The Irish High King Niall of the Nine Hostages got his epithet Noígiallach because, by taking nine petty kings hostage, he had subjected nine other principalities to his power.

This practice was also adopted in the early period of the British occupation of India, and by France in her relations with the Arab tribes in North Africa. The position of a hostage was that of a prisoner of war, to be retained till the negotiations or treaty obligations were carried out, and liable to punishment (in ancient times), and even to death, in case of treachery or refusal to fulfil the promises made.

The practice of taking hostages as security for the carrying out of a treaty between civilized states is now obsolete. The last occasion was at the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, when two British peers, Henry Bowes Howard, 11th Earl of Suffolk, and Charles, 9th Baron Cathcart, were sent to France as hostages for the restitution of Cape Breton to France.

In France, after the revolution of Prairial (June 18, 1799), the so-called law of hostages was passed, to meet the royalist insurrection in La Vendée. Relatives of émigrés were taken from disturbed districts and imprisoned, and were liable to execution at any attempt to escape. Sequestration of their property and deportation from France followed on the murder of a republican, four to every such murder, with heavy fines on the whole body of hostages. The law only resulted in an increase in the insurrection. Napoleon in 1796 had used similar measures to deal with the insurrection in Lombardy (Correspondence de Napoléon I. i. 323, 327, quoted in Hall, International Law).

In later times the practice of official war hostages may be said to be confined to either securing the payment of enforced contributions or requisitions in an occupied territory and the obedience to regulations the occupying army may think fit to issue; or as a precautionary measure, to prevent illegitimate acts of war or violence by persons not members of the recognized military forces of the enemy.

During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the Germans took as hostages the prominent people or officials from towns or districts when making requisitions and also when foraging, and it was a general practice for the mayor and adjoint of a town which failed to pay a fine imposed upon it to be seized as hostages and retained till the money was paid. Another case where hostages have been taken in modern warfare has been the subject of much discussion. In 1870 the Germans found it necessary to take special measures to put a stop to train-wrecking by parties in occupied territory not belonging to the recognized armed forces of the enemy, an illegitimate act of war. Prominent citizens were placed on the engine of the train so that it might be understood that in every accident caused by the hostility of the inhabitants their compatriots will be the first to suffer. The measure seems to have been effective. In 1900 during the Second Boer War, by a proclamation issued at Pretoria (June 19), Lord Roberts adopted the plan for a similar reason, but shortly afterwards (July 29) it was abandoned (see The Times History of the War in S. Africa, iv. 402).

The Germans also, between the surrender of a town and its final occupation, took hostages as security against outbreaks of violence by the inhabitants.

Most writers on international law have regarded this method of preventing such acts of hostility as unjustifiable, on the ground that the persons taken as hostages are not the persons responsible for the act; that, as by the usage of war hostages are to be treated strictly as prisoners of war, such an exposure to danger is transgressing the rights of a belligerent; and as useless, for the mere temporary removal of important citizens till the end of a war cannot be a deterrent unless their mere removal deprives the combatants of persons necessary to the continuance of the acts aimed at (see W. E. Hall, International Law, 1904, pp. 418, 475). On the other hand it has been urged (L. Oppenheim, International Law, 1905, vol. ii., War and Neutrality, pp. 271-273) that the acts, the prevention of which is aimed at, are not legitimate acts on the part of the armed forces of the enemy, but illegitimate acts by private persons, who, if caught, could be quite lawfully punished, and that a precautionary and preventive measure is more reasonable than reprisals. It may be noticed, however, that the hostages would suffer should the acts aimed at be performed by the authorized belligerent forces of the enemy.

Article 50 of the Hague War Regulations provides that no general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, can be inflicted on the population on account of the acts of individuals for which it cannot be regarded as collectively responsible. The regulations, however do not allude to the practice of taking hostage.

In May 1871, at the close of the Paris Commune, took place the massacre of the so-called hostages. Strictly they were not hostages, for they had not been handed over or seized as security for the performance of any undertaking or as a preventive measure, but merely in retaliation for the death of their leaders E. V. Duval and Gustave Flourens. It was an act of maniacal despair, on the defeat at Mont Valrien on the 4th of April and the entry of the army into Paris on the 21st of May. Among the many victims who were shot in batches the most noticeable were Georges Darboy, archbishop of Paris, the Abbé Deguery, curé of the Madeleine, and the president of the Court of Cassation, Louis Bernard Bonjean.

Illegal hostage taking

Taking hostages is today considered a crime or an act of terrorism; the use of the word in this sense of abductee became current only in the 1970s. The criminal activity is known as kidnapping. An acute situation where hostages are kept in a building or a vehicle that has been taken over by armed terrorists or common criminals is often called a hostage crisis.

Hostage taking is still often politically motivated or intended to raise a ransom or to enforce an exchange against other hostages or even condemned convicts. However in some countries hostage taking for profit has become an "industry", ransom often being the only demand.

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Hostage Taking In the United States

Hostage Taking Act

The United States makes hostage-taking a federal offense pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1203. Generally, the Act applies to conduct occurring within the territory of the United States. However, under Subsection B, an offender may be indicted under the Act even if the hostage-taking occurred outside the territory of the United States if the "offender or the person seized or detained is a national of the United States; the offender is found in the United States; or the governmental organization sought to be compelled is the Government of the United States."[2] These provisions are consistent with the fundamental principles of international criminal law, specifically active nationality principle, universal principle, and the effects principle, respectively.[3]

18 USC 1203: Hostage Taking Act

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, seizes or detains and threatens to kill, to injure, or to continue to detain another person in order to compel a third person or a governmental organization to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the person detained, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life and, if the death of any person results, shall be punished by death or life imprisonment.

(b)(1) It is not an offense under this section if the conduct required for the offense occurred outside the United States unless—

(A) the offender or the person seized or detained is a national of the United States;
(B) the offender is found in the United States; or
(C) the governmental organization sought to be compelled is the Government of the United States.
(2) It is not an offense under this section if the conduct required for the offense occurred inside the United States, each alleged offender and each person seized or

detained are nationals of the United States, and each alleged offender is found in the United States, unless the governmental organization sought to be compelled is the Government of the United States.

(c) As used in this section, the term “national of the United States” has the meaning given such term in section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. § 1101 (a)(22)).[4]

The Hostage Taking Act is a subsection of the International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages. It became enforceable in the United States January 6, 1985.[5]

Other use

In old Germanic peoples the word for "hostage" (gīsl and similar) sometimes occurred as part of a man's name: Ēadgils, Cynegils, Gīslheard, Gīslbeorht, etc; sometimes when a man from one nation was hostage in another nation, his position as hostage was more or less voluntary: for example the position of Æscferð son of Ecglāf, who was a Northumbrian hostage in Wessex; he fought under Byrhtnōð against Vikings in the Battle of Maldon on 10 August 991 AD (ref. lines 265 etseq), and probably died in battle there.

See also Homeric Question, as Greek `Ομηρος means "Homer" and also "hostage".

Sometimes the word "hostage" is used metaphorically, for example: "The school did not buy the land because its headmaster missed the train to the meeting because of a road traffic accident; the whole matter thus proved to be hostage to one misbehaving carriage horse.[6]."

Famous hostages include

Historical

Recent times

See also

Sources

  1. ^ For more on Roman and Celtic practices of hostage-taking as a customary part of treaty-making, see discussion of Julius Caesar's hostage crisis in Armorica in 56 BC.
  2. ^ 18 U.S.C. § 1203 (b)(1)(A)-(C)
  3. ^ Beth Van Schaack & Ronald C. Slye, International Criminal Law and Its Enforcement: Cases and Materials (2007);
  4. ^ Cornell University
  5. ^ Cornell University
  6. ^ This happened to Weisse, the second headmster of Lawrence Sheriff School; that is why the school did not buy Reynolds Field; the land is now Moultrie Road and Elsee Road in Rugby.

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to The Hostage article)

From Wikisource

The Hostage
by Friedrich Schiller
Original: German: Die Bürgschaft 1797, translation anonymous, 1902
Information about this edition
The Hostage
Translated by
Anonymous 1902


The tyrant Dionys to seek,
Stern Moerus with his poniard crept;
The watchful guard upon him swept;
The grim king marked his changeless cheek:
"What wouldst thou with thy poinard? Speak!"
"The city from the tyrant free!"
"The death-cross shall thy guerdon be."


"I am prepared for death, nor pray,"
Replied that haughty man, "to live;
Enough, if thou one grace wilt give
For three brief suns the death delay
To wed my sister - leagues away;
I boast one friend whose life for mine,
If I should fail the cross, is thine."


The tyrant mused, - and smiled, - and said
With gloomy craft, "So let it be;
Three days I will vouchsafe to thee.
But mark - if, when the time be sped,
Thou fail'st - thy surety dies instead.
His life shall buy thine own release;
Thy guilt atoned, my wrath shall cease."


He sought his friend - "The king's decree
Ordains my life the cross upon
Shall pay the deed I would have done;
Yet grants three days' delay to me,
My sister's marriage-rites to see;
If thou, the hostage, wilt remain
Till I - set free - return again!"


His friend embraced - No word he said.,
But silent to the tyrant strode -
The other went upon his road.
Ere the third sun in heaven was red,
The rite was o'er, the sister wed;
And back, with anxious heart unquailing,
He hastes to hold the pledge unfailing.


Down the great rains unending bore,
Down from the hills the torrents rushed,
In one broad stream the brooklets gushed
The wanderer halts beside the shore,
The bridge was swept the tides before -
The shattered arches o'er and under
Went the tumultuous waves in thunder.


Dismayed he takes his idle stand -
Dismayed, he strays and shouts around,
His voice awakes no answering sound.
No boat will leave the sheltering strand,
To bear him to the wished-for land;
No boatman will Death's pilot be,
The wild stream gathers to a sea!


Sunk by the banks, awhile he weeps,
Then raised his arms to Jove, and cried,
"Stay thou, oh stay the maddening tide,
Midway behold the swift sun sweeps,
And, ere he sinks adown the deeps,
If I should fail, his beams will see
My friend's last anguish - slain for me!


More fierce it runs, more broad it flows,
And wave on wave succeeds and dies
And hour on hour remorseless tries,
Despair at last to daring grows -
Amidst the flood his form he throws,
With vigorous arms the roaring waves
Cleaves - and a God that pities, saves.


He wins the bank - he scours the strand?
He thanks the God in breathless prayer;
When from the forest's gloomy lair,
With ragged club in ruthless hand,
And breathing murder - rushed the band
That find, in woods, their savage den,
And savage prey in wandering men.


"What," cried he, pale with generous fear;
"What think to gain ye by the strife?
All I bear with me is my life -
I take it to the king!" - and here
He snatched the club from him most near:
And thrice he smote, and thrice his blows
Dealt death - before him fly the foes!


The sun is glowing as a brand;
And faint before the parching heat,
The strength forsakes the feeble feet:
"Thou hast saved me from the robbers' hand,
Through wild floods given the blessed land;
And shall the weak limbs fail me now?
And he! - Divine one, nerve me, thou!

Hark! like some gracious murmur by,
Babbles low music, silver-clear -
The wanderer holds his breath to hear;
And from the rock, before his eye,
Laughs forth the spring delightedly;
Now the sweet waves he bends him o'er,
And the sweet waves his strength restore.


Through the green boughs the sun gleams dying,
O'er fields that drink the rosy beam,
The trees' huge shadows giant seem.
Two strangers on the road are hieing;
And as they fleet beside him are flying
These muttered words his ear dismay:
"Now - now the cross has claimed its prey!"


Despair his winged path pursues,
The anxious terrors hound him on -
There, reddening in the evening sun,
From far, the domes of Syracuse! -
When towards him comes Philostratus
(His leaf and trusty herdsman he),
And to the master bends his knee.


"Back - thou canst aid thy friend no more.
The niggard time already down -
His life is forfeit - save thine own!
Hour after hour in hope he bore,
Nor might his soul its faith give o'er;
Nor could the tyrant's scorn deriding,
Steal from that faith one thought confiding!"


"Too late! what horror hast thou spoken!
Vain life, since it cannot requite him!
But death with me can yet unite him;
No boast the tyrant's scorn shall make -
How friend to friend can faith forsake.
But from the double death shall know,
That truth and love yet live below!"


The sun sinks down - the gate's in view,
The cross looms dismal on the ground -
The eager crowd gape murmuring round.
His friend is bound the cross unto....
Crowd - guards - all bursts he breathless through:
"Me! Doomsman, me!" he shouts, "alone!
His life is rescued - lo, mine own!"


Amazement seized the circling ring!
Linked in each other's arms the pair -
Weeping for joy - yet anguish there!
Moist every eye that gazed; - they bring
The wondrous tidings to the king -
His breast man's heart at last hath known,
And the friends stand before his throne.


Long silent, he, and wondering long,
Gazed on the pair - "In peace depart,
Victors, ye have subdued my heart!
Truth is no dream! - its power is strong.
Give grace to him who owns his wrong!
'Tis mine your suppliant now to be,
Ah, let the band of love - be three!"

PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

1911 encyclopedia

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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


a person delivered into the hands of another as a security for the performance of some promise, etc. (2 Kings 14:14; 2 Chr. 25:24).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

A hostage is a person who is held captive against his or her will. Hostages are often taken (held captive) to force someone else to do something for their captors (the people who took them hostage). Hostages are taken for many different reasons.

  • Kidnapping is the act of taking a hostage and asking for a sum of money, called ransom. If the ransom is paid, the hostage is freed. If the ransom is not paid, the hostage is killed.
  • During some crimes, for example when robbing a bank, hostages may be taken to stop the police from attacking. The hostages are commonly used to help the thief escape by either stopping the police from shooting them or by freeing a hostage if the police will do something, for example, getting the robbers a car or a helicopter.
  • Hostages may be taken for political reasons. This is mostly done as a form of terrorism. It is often done to get prisoners freed or get attention for a group or issue.


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