Geneva Conventions and prisoners of war: How India can bring back IAF pilot

New Delhi, Fayiq Wani | Updated : 28 February 2019, 11:52 AM
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties with three protocols added on since 1949 based on international law for humanitarian treatment in war
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties with three protocols added on since 1949 based on international law for humanitarian treatment in war

Hours after Pakistan's airspace violation in Jammu and Kashmir’s Nowshera sector, India on Wednesday confirmed that an Indian Air Force pilot is 'missing in action.' Indian Air Force pilot was captured by Pakistan after his Mi-21 fighter aircraft was shot down in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The government said that it expects the "immediate and safe return" of an Indian Air Force pilot. India said it "strongly objects to Pakistan's vulgar display of injured personnel of the Indian Air Force in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention of 1929. 

What are the Geneva Conventions?

The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties with three protocols added on since 1949 based on international law for humanitarian treatment in war. There are 196 state parties to the Convention. Geneva Conventions are basically the rules protecting prisoners of war from either side. The treatment of prisoners of war is dealt with by the third Geneva convention. It defines humanitarian protections for prisoners of war. The status of prisoner of war only applies in international armed conflict. the International Committee of the Red Cross monitors whether Geneva Conventions are being followed.

Article 13 of the Convention: “Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest. Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity. Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited.”

"No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion". It dictates what private property a prisoner of war may keep and that the prisoner of war must be evacuated from the combat zone as soon as possible," says Article 17 – Article 20.

How can Geneva conventions be invoked to bring back the IAF pilot from Pakistan

Article 118 and 119 of the Geneva Convention states that prisoners of war shall be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities. Parties to the conflict shall communicate to each other the names of any prisoners of war who are detained until the end of the proceedings or until the punishment has been completed. By agreement between the Parties to the conflict, commissions shall be established for the purpose of searching for dispersed prisoners of war and of assuring their repatriation with the least possible delay.

First Published: Thursday, February 28, 2019 08:43 AM
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