The Geneva Conventions and the detention of civilians and alleged prisoners of war
Host item entries:
Public law : incorporating the British journal of administrative law, 1991, p. 508-522
When hostilities started between the United Kingdom and Iraq in 1991, hundreds of Iraqis, Lebanese, Yemenis and Palestinians lawfully present in the United Kingdom were detained and/or deported. This article addresses several legal questions surrounding their detention. It first examines whether the Geneva Conventions were applicable in international law to the detention of foreign civilians and of alleged Iraqi prisoners of war (PoWs). Consideration is given to potential breaches of the Conventions’ provisions, by virtue of either the act of detention itself and/or the conditions of detention and the procedures available to challenge them. The article then turns to examine whether the Conventions were applicable in domestic law and the role of the Geneva Conventions Act 1957. It also looks at the relationship (a) between the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 and the Immigration Act 1971, under which many foreigners were detained with a view to being deported, and (b) between the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 and the prerogative power to detain enemy aliens in times of war. Consideration is finally given to actions detained individuals can take, should domestic courts refuse to apply the provisions of the Geneva Conventions.
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