What Geneva Convention says about PoW?

As per the reports coming from Pakistan army, Indian Air Force’s Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, in Pakistani custody after his plane was shot down on Wednesday, will be governed under the Geneva Convention of 1929. During the Kargil War, Flight Lieutenant Kambampati Nachiketa was captured after his MiG-27 suffered a flameout while destroying enemy positions in the Batalik subsector. He was captured by Pakistan on May 27, 1999 and remained in Pakistani custody for more than a week. He was repatriated to India on June 3 of that year, as per Geneva Convention.

Here’s what you should know about Geneva Convention:

The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for humanitarian treatment in war. The term ‘Geneva Convention’ usually denotes the agreements of 1949, negotiated in the aftermath of the Second World War (1939–45). The Geneva Conventions extensively defined the basic rights of wartime prisoners (civilians and military personnel), established protections for the wounded and sick, and established protections for the civilians in and around a war-zone. It asserted that PoWs be given humane treatment and adequate feeding, forbidding the belligerents to apply undue pressure on prisoners to supply more than a minimum of information. In 1977, the protocol to cover both civilians and combatants in the conventions was approved with the help of negotiations from the Red Cross.

The convention has the following aims:

1. Immunity from capture and destruction of all establishments for the treatment of wounded and sick soldiers and their personnel,

2. Impartial reception and treatment of all combatants,

3. Protection of civilians providing aid to the wounded, and

4. Recognition of the Red Cross symbol as a means of identifying persons and equipment covered by the agreement.

Current scenario and Geneva Convention:

If Wing Commander Abhinandan is officially declared as a PoW, then in accordance with Article 118, first paragraph, of the 1949 third Geneva Convention, “Prisoners of war shall be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities” and “unjustifiable delay in the repatriation of prisoners of war or civilians” is a grave breach of the Protocol.

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