Law on soldiers trying to surrender

[JURIST] A Reuters report Wednesday quotes a US Defense Department official as saying that some of the 12 US soldiers whose supply convoy was ambushed near Nassiriya in southern Iraq on Sunday were killed by their captors although they tried to surrender. Article 50 of the First Geneva Convention [text], to which Iraq is a party, declares "willful killing" of protected persons (e.g. sick, wounded, or defenseless soldiers or civilians), a "grave breach" and thereby denotes that as a war crime. Several sections of the 1977 Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions [text] are more specific:

Art 40. Quarter

It is prohibited to order that there shall be no survivors, to threaten an adversary therewith or to conduct hostilities on this basis.

Art 41. Safeguard of an enemy hors de combat

1. A person who is recognized or who, in the circumstances, should be recognized to be hors de combat shall not be made the object of attack.
2. A person is hors de combat if:
(a) he is in the power of an adverse Party;
(b) he clearly expresses an intention to surrender; or
(c) he has been rendered unconscious or is otherwise incapacitated by wounds or sickness, and therefore is incapable of defending himself;
provided that in any of these cases he abstains from any hostile act and does not attempt to escape.
Unfortunately, Iraq is not a signatory to the Additional Protocols.

 

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