… communications may fail, aircrews of military aircraft may have no alternative but to resort to parachuting from their aircraft if they want to surrender.
Aircrews of military aircraft may descend by parachute from their aircraft because of distress, irrespective of any intention to surrender (see Section T ). Whether or not they wish to surrender, they must not be attacked during the descent, and must be given an opportunity to surrender upon reaching enemy-controlled territory (see …
(a) No person descending by parachute from an aircraft in distress may be made the object of attack during his descent.
(b) Upon landing in a territory controlled by the enemy, a person who descended by parachute from an aircraft in distress is entitled to be given an opportunity to surrender prior to being made the object of attack, unless it is apparent that he is engaging in a hostile act.
- This Rule is based on Art. 42 (1) of AP/I.
- Rule 132 (a) covers both aircrews and passengers, although not airborne troops (see Rule 133).
- Rule 132 (a) is absolute and applicable even if it appears that aircrews parachuting from an aircraft in distress will reach — or be rescued by — friendly forces and live to fight another day.
- Rule 132 (a) covers aircrews and passengers parachuting from an aircraft in distress not only over land but also over sea areas. Once they alight on sea, they become shipwrecked.
- If survivors at sea who are members of the armed forces of a Belligerent Party are picked up by neutral vessels, they must be interned for the duration of the international armed conflict (see Rule 172 (b)).
- Rule 132 (a) applies also in non-international armed conflict.
- Art. 42 (1) of AP/I: “No person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of attack during his descent.”
- This Rule is based on Art. 42 (2) of AP/I. See also Para. 126.96.36.199 of NWP.
- The thrust of Rule 132 (b) is that, upon the completion of the descent from an aircraft in distress and once landing in territory controlled by the enemy is effected, an opportunity must be given to the parachutist to surrender.
- For his part, the parachutist who has descended must not try to evade capture by the enemy. An attempt to evade capture denotes that the person concerned has not laid down his arms in the legal sense (see Rule 15 (b) and Rule 127).
- It has happened that parachuting airmen have been attacked by a mob of local civilians with the intention of lynching. Such an act constitutes a war crime. In this case, the parachuting airman is entitled to attempt to escape the mob without losing his hors de combat status.
- Rule 132 (b) presupposes that the parachutists lands in “territory controlled by the enemy”. If, for whatever reason (e.g., due to wind currents), the parachutists lands in neutral territory, he must be interned by the Neutral (see Commentary on Rule 170 (c)).
- Rule 132 (b) applies also in non-international armed conflict.
- Art. 42 (2) of AP/I: “Upon reaching the ground in territory controlled by an adverse Party, a person who has parachuted from an aircraft in distress shall be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of attack, unless it is apparent that he is engaging in a hostile act.”
- Para. 188.8.131.52. of NWP (“Airborne Forces versus Parachutists in Distress”), first sentence: “Parachutists descending from disabled aircraft may not be attacked while in the air unless they engage in combatant acts while descending. Upon reaching the ground, such parachutists must be provided an opportunity to surrender.”
This Section does not apply to airborne troops.
- This Rule is based on Art. 42 (3) of AP/I. See also Para. 184.108.40.206 of NWP.
- Although the phrase “airborne troops” is used in the plural, Rule 133 applies also to one individual person. The term must, furthermore, be understood comprehensively: it includes paratroopers, special forces, commando units, etc.
- The real difference between “airborne troops” and “parachut[ists] from an aircraft in distress” relates to their status during the descent from the aircraft. Airborne troops may be lawfully attacked during their descent. However, upon landing, they may surrender (see Rule 125). Should they surrender, they are no different from any other combatant. Therefore, all conditions of Rule 127 must be complied with.
- Rule 133 applies also in non-international armed conflict.
- Art. 42 (3) of AP/I: “Airborne troops are not protected by this Article.”
- NWP, Para. 220.127.116.11, third and fourth sentences: “Airborne troops, special warfare infiltrators, and intelligence agents parachuting into combat areas or behind enemy lines are not so protected and may be attacked in the air as well as on the ground. Such personnel may not be attacked, however, if they clearly indicate in a timely manner their intention to surrender.”