Practice Relating to Rule 151. Individual Responsibility
Section B. Individual civil liability
France’s LOAC Teaching Note (2000), in a part dealing with “grave breaches of the rules of the law of armed conflict”, states: “Each violation of the law of armed conflicts … gives a right to reparation at the civil level.”
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) restates Article 1382 of the French Civil Code on civil liability and provides: “This implies that someone who has not been held criminally liable must nevertheless provide reparation for the damage caused.”
France’s Law on Cooperation with the ICTY (1995), which allows French courts to try and punish individuals found in France and being accused of having committed the violations of IHL over which the ICTY has jurisdiction, provides: “Any person claiming to have been injured by one of those offences can, by filing a complaint, bring indemnification proceedings [“partie civile
”] in the conditions set forth in Article 85 ff. of the Code of Penal Procedure.”
The same principle is set forth in the Law on Cooperation with the ICTR (1996).
In 1993, the Committee of French Jurists set up by the French Government to study the establishment of a criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia stated:
It does not seem reasonable to admit civil actions before the [International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia]. That would lead to a flood of claims, which the international court would not be in a position to process effectively. It seems preferable to proceed from the principle that it will be for the national courts to rule on claims for reparation by victims or their beneficiaries.
At the Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court in 1998, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs declared: “My country has also urged close cooperation with NGOs to ensure that the statute contains precise provisions concerning victim access at all stages of proceedings … and their right to reparation.”
In 2008, the Minister of Defence of France, when talking about the liability of private military contractors for violations of international humanitarian law, stated:
The responsibility of private military companies could be engaged in the same way as any company under French law … These companies could thus be held civilly liable for acts committed on their behalf by their employees. Their dissolution could be pronounced in case of violation of the applicable law.