Practice Relating to Rule 129. The Act of Displacement
India’s Geneva Conventions Act (1960) provides:
If any person within or without India commits or attempts to commit, or abets or procures the commission by any other person of, a grave breach of any of the [1949 Geneva] Conventions he shall be punished.
India’s Constitution (1950) provides: “All citizens shall have the right … (d) to move freely throughout the territory of India; (e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India”.
According to the Report on the Practice of India, this provision is reinforced during internal armed conflicts by constitutional provisions to the effect that freedom of movement may only be suspended where an emergency is proclaimed on account of an external aggression and not where an emergency is declared as the result of an internal armed rebellion.
In 2009, in a statement during a debate in the Lower House of Parliament (Lok Sabha) on the situation in Sri Lanka, India’s Minister of External Affairs and Minister of Finance stated:
A serious source of concern to us has been the condition of the civilians and internally displaced persons (IDPs), mostly Tamil, caught up in the zone of conflict. Estimates on the number of civilians trapped vary, but 70,000 or so are estimated to be there now. …
The Government of India is ready to facilitate the evacuation of civilians trapped in the area of conflict, working with the Government of Sri Lanka and the ICRC who would take responsibility for the security, screening and rehabilitation of these internally displaced persons.