Red Cross Cautions Iraqi Soldiers Using Civilian Disguises
01 Apr 2003, 16:51 UTC
International Committee of the Red Cross is warning that Iraqi
themselves as civilians risk
. The Red Cross has called on both sides in the Iraq war to
stop using tactics that endanger Iraqi civilians.
The Red Cross said the rules of warfare outlined by the Geneva
Conventions are clear. In a conflict situation, there must be
an unmistakable distinction between what is civilian and what
to the Geneva Conventions recognize people's rights to resist
and defend themselves, the Red Cross says there are rules that
apply even in these cases, including one that says arms must
be carried openly.
Red Cross spokesman Kim Gordon-Bates said soldiers who masquerade
in order to deceive the enemy violate the conventions and risk
. "Somebody who evades formal identification as a regular
fighter is actualy exposing themselves to being prosecuted,
if ever they are arrested. What they are doing is denying themselves
the protection that fighters normally get. Then it becomes a
, becomes whatever, that is up to a tribunal to decide. But
they are doing something which is no longer considered to be
a formal act of war performed by a formal, regular force,"
Mr. Gordon-Bates said
soldiers are protected under the Third Geneva Convention. This
means they cannot be prosecuted for taking up arms against an
enemy force. But this convention does not protect armed civilians.
He said Iraq, the United States, and Britain are all
to the Conventions.
Coalition troops have reported several instances where Iraqi
soldiers have posed as civilians. Recently, an Iraqi non-commissioned
officer posing as a taxi driver
a car bomb that killed him and four U.S. soldiers at a U.S.
military roadblock near Najaf.
about suicide attacks, U.S. troops shot dead an unarmed driver
Tuesday. In an incident Monday, U.S. soldiers fired at a van
that failed to stop at a checkpoint after warning shots were
fired, killing seven women and children. Red Cross spokeswoman
Antonella Notari said the Conventions apply here too.
have, of course, the right to try and defend their own security
and the security of their personnel so they may search vans,
they may stop vehicles. There are certain rules on how you proceed
in that. Of course, we hope that they took all the necessary
measures to warn the people, to clearly alert them," she
The Red Cross says it will not play the role of
, but expects military authorities to adhere to the rules of
war. They said chief among these is the protection of civilians
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