NEW DELHI: 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.
“There is only one pilot under Pakistan army’s custody. Wing Comd Abhi Nandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics,” Pakistani military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said on Twitter as tension between the two countries escalated.
The rules protecting Prisoners of War (POWs) are specific. They were first detailed in the 1929 Geneva Convention and later amended in the third 1949 Geneva Convention following the lessons of World War II.
According to the rules, the status of POW only applies in international armed conflict. “POWs are usually members of the armed forces of one of the parties to a conflict who fall into the hands of the adverse party,” the Convention states.
It says POWs cannot be prosecuted for taking a direct part in hostilities.“Their detention is not a form of punishment, but only aims to prevent further participation in the conflict. They must be released and repatriated without delay after the end of hostilities. The detaining power may prosecute them for possible war crimes, but not for acts of violence that are lawful under International Humanitarian Law,” it says.
The rules specify that POWs must be treated humanely in all circumstances.
“They are protected against any act of violence, as well as against intimidation, insults and public curiosity,” the Geneva Convention states.
Meanwhile, India today demanded immediate and safe return of its IAF pilot Abhinandan, captured by Pakistan after an aerial confrontation, and strongly objected to the neighbouring country’s “vulgar display” of an injured defence personnel in violation of international norms.
Summoning Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah to lodge a strong protest at “the unprovoked act of aggression” by Pakistan including targeting of military posts, the External Affairs Ministry said the envoy was clearly told that India reserves the right to take “firm and decisive action to protect its national security”.
India also made it clear to Pakistan that no harm should be caused to the Indian defence personnel, the External Affairs Ministry said.
In its sharp-worded statement, the MEA said India has strongly objected to Pakistan’s “vulgar display” of an injured personnel of the Indian Air Force in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention.
“It was made clear that Pakistan would be well advised to ensure that no harm comes to the Indian defence personnel in its custody. India also expects his immediate and safe return,” the MEA said.
The MEA lodged a strong protest at the unprovoked act of aggression by Pakistan against India, including by violation of the Indian air space and targeting of Indian military posts.“It is unfortunate that instead of fulfilling its international obligation and bilateral commitment to take credible action against terrorist entities and individuals operating from its soil, Pakistan has acted with aggression against India,” the MEA added.
“It was clearly conveyed that India reserves the right to take firm and decisive action to protect its national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity against any act of aggression or cross-border terrorism,” said the MEA.