United States of America
Practice Relating to Rule 129. The Act of Displacement
Section A. Forced displacement
The US Field Manual (1956) provides: “In no circumstances shall a protected person be transferred to a country where he or she may have reason to fear persecution for his or her political opinions or religious beliefs.”
The manual further states:
Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motives.
According to the manual, “unlawful deportation or transfer … of a protected person” constitutes a grave breach.
The US Air Force Pamphlet (1976) refers to Article 49 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV.
The US Naval Handbook (1995) provides: “The following acts are representative of war crimes: … offenses against civilian inhabitants of occupied territory, including … deportation”.
The US Naval Handbook (2007) states that examples of war crimes that could be considered as grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions include: “Offenses against civilian inhabitants of occupied territory, including … deportation”.
The Handbook also states: “Interned persons may not be removed from the occupied territory in which they reside except as their own security or imperative military considerations may require.
The US Regulations Governing the Trials of Accused War Criminals in the Pacific Region I (1945) established military commissions which had jurisdiction over offences such as “deportation to slave labour or for any other illegal purpose, of civilians of or in occupied territory”.
The US Regulations Governing the Trials of Accused War Criminals in the Pacific Region II (1945) established military commissions which had jurisdiction over offences such as “deportation to slave labour or for any other purpose of civilians of or in occupied territory”.
Under the US War Crimes Act (1996), grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions are war crimes.
In its judgment in the Krauch case (The I
. Farben Trial)
in 1948, the US Military Tribunal at Nuremberg considered that some of the accused, officials of I.G. Farben Industrie A.G. were responsible for having participated in the enslavement and deportation to slave labour of the civilian population of territory under belligerent occupation or otherwise controlled by Germany. The Court found that the utilization of forced labour, unless done under such circumstances as to relieve the employer of responsibility, constituted a violation of that part of Article II of the 1945 Allied Control Council Law No. 10, which recognized as war crimes and crimes against humanity the enslavement, deportation or imprisonment of the civilian population of other countries.
In its judgment in the Milch case
in 1947, the US Military Tribunal at Nuremberg found the accused, an inspector-general and a field-marshal in the German Air Force during the Second World War, responsible for the deportation of inhabitants of occupied territories, prisoners of war and German nationals, amounting to war crimes, under Article II of the 1945 Allied Control Council Law No. 10. The Tribunal found evidence that the accused took part in the decision process according to which workers from occupied territories were forcibly taken from their homes without knowledge of their destination, and deported to forced labour in factories manufacturing armaments. The deportees were deprived of the right to move freely or to choose their place of residence.
In its judgment in the Krupp case
the US Military Tribunal at Nuremberg found the accused, officials of Krupp A.G., guilty of participation in the programme of deportation to slave labour of members of the civilian population of the invaded countries. The Tribunal considered that such participation amounted to war crimes, under Article II of the 1945 Allied Control Council Law No. 10, in that they were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, or took a consenting part in the deportation programme.
In its judgment in the List case (The Hostages Trial)
in 1948, the US Military Tribunal at Nuremberg found high-ranking German officers guilty of war crimes under Article II of the 1945 Allied Control Council Law No. 10, for having taken part, as accessories or principals, in the torture, ill-treatment and deportation to slave labour of the civilian population of the occupied territories of Greece, Yugoslavia and Albania by troops of the German Armed Forces, acting pursuant to superior orders.
In its judgment in the Von Leeb case
(The High Command Trial
) in 1948, the US Military Tribunal at Nuremberg found members of the German High Command guilty of war crimes, for their participation in atrocities and offences, including deportation of civilians to slave labour or other purposes. The evidence referred to deportation and enslavement of civilians carried out on a large scale. Workers were seized in the streets, under the pretext that they had to work for two to three days, and brought to work without any winter clothing.
In 1992, in its final report to Congress on the conduct of the Gulf War, the US Department of Defense stated that it considered the individual and mass forcible deportation of Kuwaiti and third country nationals to Iraq, in violation of Articles 49 and 147 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV, to be a war crime.
In 1992, in a report submitted pursuant to paragraph 5 of UN Security Council Resolution 771 (1992) on grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV in the former Yugoslavia, the United States stated that mass forcible expulsion and deportation of civilians were listed as grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV. The report collated information on 12 such instances of expulsion and deportation.
In 1993, during a debate in the UN Security Council, the United States condemned the forced displacement in the former Yugoslavia.
The Report on US Practice states: “Article 17 of Protocol II reflects general U.S. policy on displacement in internal armed conflicts.”