The prohibition of deportation and forcible transfer of civilian populations in the Fourth Geneva Convention and beyond
Revisiting the Geneva Conventions : 1949-2019
Leiden : Brill Nijhoff, 2019
Bibliography : p. 104-114
International humanitarian law prohibits ‘deportations’, ‘individual or massive forcible transfers’ and ‘displacement of population for reasons related to the conflict’. According to a Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, "the prohibition against deportation serves to provide civilians with a legal safeguard against forcible removals in time of armed conflict and the uprooting and destruction of communities by an aggressor or occupant of the territory in which they reside". The prohibition is thus not only supported by the underlying principle of humanity, but also by the protection of the sovereignty of the occupied territory—the population being one of the three constitutive elements of the State. In this regard, the norm is complemented by the prohibition to ‘deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies,’ set forth in Article 49(6) GC IV. The only exception to the—otherwise absolute—prohibition concerns evacuations, either required to ensure the ‘security of the population’ or dictated by ‘imperative military reasons’. This chapter endeavours to shed light on the historic origins of the prohibition and on its legal basis under current IHL. Finally, close attention will be paid to the limits of the prohibition and to the exceptions provided for in the relevant provisions.