Practice Relating to Rule 47. Attacks against Persons Hors de Combat
Section B. Specific categories of persons hors de combat
Belgium’s Field Regulations (1964) states: “It is forbidden to mistreat … an enemy, who having laid down his arms, has surrendered at discretion.”
Belgium’s Law of War Manual (1983) provides: “It is prohibited to kill or injure an adversary who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered ‘at discretion’, i.e. unconditionally.”
Belgium’s Teaching Manual for Officers (1994) stipulates: “Any adversary hors de combat
may no longer be made the object of attack. This is the case of combatants who surrender, who are wounded or sick [or] shipwrecked.”
Belgium’s Teaching Manual for Soldiers states that surrendering soldiers may not be fired at. It explains: “The intention to surrender may be expressed in different ways: laid down arms, raised hand, white flag.” The manual also provides:
The shipwrecked do not constitute any longer a military threat. [Wounded and shipwrecked] combatants obviously lose their protection and may be attacked if they themselves open fire … For the same reasons of humanity, the wounded and sick must be spared.