What does the Geneva Convention say about the treatment of prisoners of war?
Pakistan captured an Indian Air Force pilot after it shot down his fighter jet for entering Pakistani territory Wednesday morning. The identity of the pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, has been made public.
But how exactly are we supposed to treat him?
The Third Geneva Convention, which all countries in the United Nations are bound to follow, says that prisoners of war (POWs) must be treated humanely.
“Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. 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,” reads Article 13 of the convention.
It says no POW may be subjected to “physical mutilation” and must be protected at all times, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity. Public curiosity includes anything that has an impact on the prisoners’ ‘honour” and consequences for them and their family, the photographer’s intention and whether the footage was routine or staged.
A draft resolution by the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society called on states to ensure POWs aren’t individually recognisable in footage made public and ensure no recordings of POWs making statements are permitted.
According to Article 17, every prisoner of war, 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. Wing Commander Varthaman did so in a video. Indian media outlets revealed more details of him, as well pictures of his family.