Bloodied IAF pilot raises fears of Geneva rules violations

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"It is unfortunate that instead of fulfilling its worldwide 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 said.

"He should be extended all courtesies as per the Geneva Conventions".

Further, the Geneva Convention holds, "Any difference arising between two States and leading to the intervention of members of the armed forces is an armed conflict within the meaning of Article 2, even if one of the Parties denies the existence of a state of war".

"In this case, probably by that standard nearly every handling of prisoners of war involves violation of laws of war", he said Wednesday.

With an Indian pilot in Pakistan's custody following an aerial encounter with the Indian Air Force over the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir today, there were calls to treat him humanely and in accordance to the Geneva Conventions. The law applies from the time of capture of a military personnel till his/her release or repatriation. The Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflicts was the main outcome of the Geneva Conventions. "I flatly told them that they have to follow the Geneva Convention and have to release him to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which they ultimately did".

Pakistan's release of a video showing a captured Indian pilot may have violated the Geneva Conventions meant to protect prisoners from "insults and public curiosity", according to experts. "The Geneva Conventions indicates that it's not permitted to photograph and embarrass or humiliate prisoners of war", he said days after the invasion.

The Geneva Convention also says POWs can not be prosecuted.

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Though this apparent violation may be hard to enforce, the worldwide community could apply soft pressure to Pakistan to alter its behavior, VanLandingham said.

The singular term "Geneva Convention" refers to the agreements of 1949, which substantially updated previous agreements following the humanitarian havoc caused during the World War II (1939-45). Islamabad has claimed that he is in their custody, while New Delhi said it is ascertaining facts about the missing pilot.

Article 17 states that every POW, when questioned on the subject, is bound to give only his surname, first names and rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personal or serial number, or failing this, equivalent information.

The rules specify that POWs must be treated humanely in all circumstances. If the captured person does not answer a question, he or she must not be "threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind". Wing Commander Varthaman did so in a video.

Prisoners of war who, owing to their physical or mental condition, are unable to state their identity, must be handed over for medical treatment.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is a MiG-21 Bison pilot. Though Pakistan can try the captured individual under a military court (impartial and independent) after providing legal aid (Article 105), it cannot take away the protection awarded to him under the Geneva Conventions.